Illinois fatal work injury accidents increase in 2008 — nationwide, fatalities decrease

The federal government reported this week that the smallest number of employees ever recorded died as a result of work injuries in 2008.

But that was not the case in Illinois — where the number of employees killed on the job actually increased. The government acknowledged the numbers could be lower because of a poor economy, record unemployment, a change in record keeping (that records injuries per hours worked rather than per employee) and even delayed or under-recorded fatalities because of lower staffing levels at the various reporting agencies.

Employees are being asked to do more to keep their jobs in the present economy, to make up for laid off workers or eliminated positions. But companies and employers still have an obligation to provide a safe work environment. Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys and work injury lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights if your or a loved one has been injured on the job.

Illinois joined just 14 states where the the number of workers who died on the job increased, from 185 in 2007 to 193 in 2008:
– Transportation accidents killed 62 employees – 38 died as a result of assault or acts of violence -34 died from contact with objects or equipment -29 died in falls -23 died from exposure to harmful substances or environments -7 died as a result of fires or explosions on the job.

Last year’s skyrocketing nationwide unemployment rate may have played a part in the reduced rate of fatal work accidents–the government reported significant drops in dangerous jobs like construction, which were also hit hard by the economic downturn.

A total of 5,071 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2008, down from a total of 5,657 fatal work injuries reported for 2007. It is the smallest number recorded since current recording began in 1992.

The numbers indicate 3.6 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers, down from 4.0 in 2007.

Key findings of the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:
– Fatal work injuries in the private construction sector in 2008 declined by 20 percent.
– Fatal workplace falls, which had risen to a series high in 2007, also declined by 20 percent in 2008.
– Workplace suicides were up 28 percent to a series high of 251 cases in 2008, but workplace homicides declined 18 percent.
– The number and rate of fatal work injuries among 16 to 17 year-old workers were higher in 2008.
– Fatal occupational injuries involving Hispanic or Latino workers in 2008 were 17 percent lower than in 2007.
– Fatalities among non-Hispanic Black or African American workers were down 16 percent.
– The number of fatal workplace injuries in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations rose 6 percent in 2008.
– Transportation incidents, which accounted for approximately two-fifths of all the workplace
fatalities in 2008, fell 13 percent from the previous series low of 2,351 cases reported in 2007.

Profile of 2008 fatal work injuries by type of incident:

-highway incidents (down 19 percent)
-railway incidents (down 31 percent)
-workers struck by vehicle or mobile equipment (down 7 percent)
-nonhighway incidents such as tractor overturns (down 4 percent)

The 680 fatal falls in 2008 represent a 20 percent decline from the series high of 847 fatal falls in 2007.

-Fatal falls to a lower level, which accounted for 85 percent of all falls, were down 23 percent in 2008
-Fatal falls from roofs were down 26 percent -Falls from ladders decreased by 14 percent

The number of fatal work injuries involving fires and explosions was up 14 percent in 2008; fatalities involving contact with objects or equipment were also up slightly in 2008.

Profile of fatal work injuries by industry:

Overall, 90 percent of the fatal work injuries involved workers in private industry.
-Service-providing industries in the private sector recorded 46 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2008.
-Goods-producing industries recorded 43 percent.
-Ten percent of the fatal work injury cases in 2008 involved government workers.

While workers in construction incurred the most fatalities of any industry in the private sector in 2008, the number of fatalities in construction declined 20 percent, from 1,204 cases in 2007 to 969 cases in 2008.

Fatalities rose by 11 percent among private sector workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry sector in 2008 after declining in 2007.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago work accident, the workers’ compensation lawyers and work injury attorneys at Abels & Annes are here to help. Call us for a free consultation.