Perhaps you’ve worked your entire 30-year construction career without suffering a single injury, but last Friday was the day. You slipped on a wet spot and broke your hip. It could be months before you can get back on the job.
This kind of scenario is all-too-common, especially as America’s workforce continues to age. The older we get, the more likely we are to suffer an on-the-job injury. Even worse, these accidents cost the economy billions and they can destroy a worker’s ability to earn a living and put food on the table.
According to National Safety Council figures, on-the-job slip-and-fall injuries cost the United States economy $70 billion every year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that these injuries are the second most common cause of death at work. The most common citation issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) relates to fall protection.
As you can see, slip-and-fall events — and their prevention — should be on everyone’s minds. Businesses should be concerned because these accidents affect their bottom lines when a skilled worker can no longer report to the job. Workers’ should be concerned because a slip-and-fall event could ruin his or her income-earning capacity. And, society should be concerned because unnecessary medical costs, productivity issues and lost employment capabilities affect our local and national economies.
During the last several decades OSHA has done its best to prevent workplace slip-and-fall risks. This has served to prevent deaths and disabilities but there is more the organization can do. According to Liberty Mutual Insurance, an estimated $61 billion gets spent on disability claims annually and $15.57 billion of this money is spent because of fall injuries. A separate category for slip-and-fall injuries accounts for $2.35 billion in expenditures each year.
Clearly, there is a lot more safety regulators and employers can do to prevent on-the-job slips and falls.
If you got hurt in a slip-and-fall event at work, and you need medical care because of it, you may be able to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include temporary wage replacement benefits as you heal; permanent disability benefits in the case of a permanent disability; and/or financial benefits to pay for your medical care.