The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 4,693 workers died on the job in 2011, slightly more than in 2010. According to the report 1,937 workers died in transportation incidents; 710 through “contact with objects and equipment”; 681 from “falls, slips [and] trips”; and 419 from “exposure to harmful substances or environments.”
On average, 13 workers a day are killed on the job in the United States and many more are injured. On April 17 this year, 14 people died in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. That same day, 300 miles to the east, 12 workers were injured when a fire broke out at the ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas. Seven workers suffered severe burns.
This year, for the first time, the Bureau’s fatality report has a separate category for “contract” workers, who may not be afforded the same protections as regular employees. Five hundred forty-two died in 2011, the bureau found, accounting for 12 percent of all fatal injuries. Texas had the highest number of contractor deaths – 56 – followed by Florida (51) and California (42).
“Looking through the BLS data, you see some really simple, easily preventable causes of death: people falling off roofs, people dying in trench cave-ins, people falling off ladders, people dying in confined spaces,” says Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an umbrella organization for a network of nonprofit groups around the country.
OSHA clearly lacks sufficient resources to protect workers adequately. More than 8.1 million workers still are without OSHA coverage. Furthermore, as noted by the AFL-CIO’s 2012”Death on the Job” report, “[a]t its current staffing and inspection levels, it would take federal OSHA 131 years to inspect each workplace under its jurisdiction just once.” For example, records show that OSHA had not inspected the now-demolished Texas fertilizer plant since 1985.
Protect your rights following a workplace fatality or injury
At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.
Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*
If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed, in a workplace accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.
* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.