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AFL-CIO report documents on-the-job dangers and worker death toll

Workplace hazards in New Jersey vary by industry, but other factors like worker age, ethnicity and workplace violence contribute to deaths on the job. A 2018 report published by the AFL-CIO revealed that 5,190 people died at work in 2016.

Statistically, the risk is not spread equally among all workers. The majority of fatalities, 36 percent, happened to workers who were 55 or older. Once employees reach the age of 65, their likelihood of being killed at work increased by a factor of 2.5 compared to other workers. Latino people also experienced a high rate of death. Their fatality rate reached 3.7 per 100,000 workers, which exceeded the national average of 3.6 deaths per 100,000.

Certain industries impose greater physical risks as well. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting form the most dangerous occupational groups. Workers in these jobs die at a rate of 23.2 per 100,000.

According to the report, the construction sector has a fatality rate of 10.1 per 100,000, but it claimed the highest number of lives in 2016 at 991 fatalities. The transportation sector followed closely that year with 825 reported deaths among transportation and warehouse employees. Overall, regardless of industry, transportation accidents represented the No. 1 source of workplace deaths. Workplace violence emerged as the second most common cause of workplace fatalities with 866 deaths in 2016.

When a work accident claims someone’s life, workers’ compensation could offer the surviving family a death benefit. This insurance also pays for medical care and lost pay needed by a person hurt on the job. An attorney could explain available coverage if a person cannot get clear answers from an employer or insurer. When necessary, a lawyer could file a lawsuit to pursue a financial settlement for someone entitled to collect the benefit.