Pandemic Impacting Work-Injury Risks

Thirteen workers a day died on the job during the first year of the pandemic, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2020, 4,764 U.S. workers died while on the job — or one worker every 111 minutes.hospitalroom-300x200

That’s down from 5,190 in 2016, a reduction that safety advocates largely attribute to the pandemic. However, the nation has undergone unprecedented change in the workplace since the start of the pandemic, and many of the consequences remain unknown. With record numbers of employees changing careers, jobs and occupations, the coming years will likely reveal the consequences of a host of changing risk factors.

Still, our work injury lawyers in Fort Myers know one thing is likely to remain the same: Transportation accidents have been most responsible for on-the-job injury since record keeping began.

On-the-Job Traffic Accidents

Transportation incidents killed 1,778 workers and accounted for 37.3% of all work-related deaths in 2020. The highest number of injuries occurred to those who work in transportation and material working, followed by construction. However, a substantial number of other occupations are at risk, from office workers to executives.

Being in a serious or fatal traffic collision while on the job presents a complex claim for damages. Many think workers’ compensation is the only means of recovery, which is incorrect. While it’s true those who are covered by workers’ compensation are prohibited in most cases from suing an employer for additional damages, a third-party liability claim can still be pursued against other at-fault parties, from other drivers, to property owners and subcontractors.

Failure to pursue third-party liability claims where appropriate can significantly reduce an injured employee’s ability to collect adequate compensation. However, pursuing both types of claims becomes more complex as your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier may try to shift blame to a third party and/or reduce payout.

At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we have the benefit of more than 50 years of fighting for the rights of both injured workers and those seriously injured or killed in car accidents right here in Southwest Florida.

Work-Related Injuries in Southwest Florida

The recently released statistics for 2020 show those who continue to show up at the workplace are at higher risk of injury, compared to those who have worked remotely. This has disproportionately endangered minority workers. About 53% of Hispanic and 51% of Black workers hold jobs that require in-person contact, according to the Urban Institute. Both groups were at substantially higher risk for injury.

Weak unions have also increased injury risks. We are seeing some of the fallout among nursing and teaching unions, as well as unionization efforts at places like Amazon and Starbucks.

Among those most at risk:

  • Transportation and material moving occupations and construction and extraction occupations accounted for nearly half of all fatal occupational injuries.
  • Sales occupations and office and administrative support occupations had a 19.0-percent decrease in fatal occupational injuries, likely the result of more people working from home.
  • Fatalities in healthcare support occupations increased 15.8 percent.
  • Fatal occupational injuries among law enforcement workers increased 18.6 percent between 2019 and 2020.
  • The fatal injury rate for aircraft pilots and flight engineers decreased by nearly 50 percent, reflecting less air travel.
  • Fishing and hunting workers faced among the highest risk with a fatal injury rate of 132.1 fatal work injuries per 100,000. Nearly three-quarters of these deaths resulted from transportation accidents.

In all, there were 2,654,700 reported cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the private industry in 2020, according to the latest report. It’s important to understand if you are hurt on the job, your interests will not be the same as your employer’s. Consulting an experienced work injury attorney in Fort Myers or Cape Coral is the best thing you can do to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

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