We take it for granted that modern workers are safer than those who came before, but it’s important to remember that injury, illness, and even death from incidents that happen on the job have not been entirely eliminated. In fact, in 2016 (the latest year with full data), fatal workplace accidents were up 7 percent, leading to the deaths of nearly 5,200 American workers.
Michigan was no exception and actually saw a 20 percent jump in workplace fatalities from the previous year, leading to the highest number of deaths (162) in at least a decade. There were an additional 97,000 cases of illness and injury on the job, with more than half of them (over 47,000) noted as serious and requiring days away from work or a job change or restriction. Most of those incidents (94 percent) were injuries, with the rest being illnesses.
Construction Danger Persists
Some other professions are more dangerous on a per-worker basis, but the construction trades cause the most injuries year after year. OSHA reported that in 2016 more than one in five worker deaths was in construction, with nearly two-thirds of those fatalities due to four causes, the so-called “fatal four” of the construction industry. Falls, struck by object, electrocution, and caught in/between incidents are risks in many professions, but they stand out in the construction trades.
We were reminded of the dangers in construction work last week when a worker was killed in a trench collapse at a job site on Mound Road in Sterling Heights. That kind of incident falls into the “caught in/between” category. It’s especially sad because that worker’s death—like so many workplace deaths and injuries—may have been entirely preventable: The news reports indicate that no steps had been taken to shore up the trench the man was working in. It was reported to have been ten to eleven feet deep, more than double the depth at which safety guidelines require protective measures.
Accidents Not Really Accidents
Unfortunately, virtually every injury and death on the job is preventable. Accidents aren’t really accidents but are often caused because someone behaved recklessly or negligently by not following safety procedures or by allowing an unsafe condition to exist.
Even if you don’t believe that 100 percent of accidents can be avoided, it’s hard not to admit that the vast majority should never happen. Slips, trips, falls, and most impact injuries can be avoided by keeping a clean workplace; workers are protected from many falls, crushing injuries, and entanglements by wearing proper clothing and following safety procedures; and even many repetitive motion injuries can be avoided with simple changes to processes and ergonomic improvements.
Detroit Construction Accident Lawyer
Even when workers compensation covers a workplace injury, thousands of Michigan employees suffer injuries each year that require additional action and compensation. When an injury is the result of negligence, it’s important to discuss your case with a Detroit attorney who understands workplace injury law, especially when a construction accident is at the heart of the matter. If you’re the survivor of a worker who was killed on the job, it’s just as important to review your situation with counsel to decide if you should pursue compensation from those responsible.
Christensen Law offers a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to all clients, so you have nothing to lose. Give us a call today at 248-213-4900 or contact us online through the form below to learn more.