AFL-CIO report highlights workplace fatalities in Minnesota and beyond

Workplace fatalities claim thousands of lives a year, many of which could be prevented with due care.

The recent annual report from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has once again shone a spotlight on a key job safety issue: the prevalence of injury-causing fatal workplace accidents. The AFL-CIO's Death on the Job: the Toll of Neglect report - this is the 23rd year in which the organization has produced such a report - provides startling clarity to this vitally important yet not often discussed issue.

According to data compiled by the AFL-CIO, every day in 2012 (the most recent year for which such data is available), more than 150 workers died of either injuries sustained in a workplace accident or of an occupational illness/disease. This startling daily toll adds up to nearly 55,000 Americans who died as a direct result of their faithfully performing their job duties. Perhaps even more concerning is the number of illnesses and injuries suffered by workers: 11.4 million in 2012 alone.

Key findings closer to home

Minnesota's workplaces are no stranger to workplace injuries and fatalities. In recent years, some of the state's employers have made headlines for a wide range of workplace accidents and deaths, with everything from construction workers and law enforcement officers being struck by vehicles to jobsite shootings, and from tragic fires to the sheer destruction caused by tornadoes. The AFL-CIO reports that Minnesota had 70 workplace deaths in 2012, making it the 12th safest state for workers (once data had been extrapolated to account for population).

One of our neighbors to the west, North Dakota, is actually the deadliest state in the country, with an average of 17.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. The fatality rate of North Dakota has more than doubled in recent years due to the oil and gas mining boom that has brought in thousands of blue-collar workers from across the nation. The rapid growth of mining operations is no doubt a major contributing factor that has led to a fatal accident rate more than six times the national average for "mining and oil and gas extraction" workers.

The "Roughrider State" of North Dakota also holds the dubious distinction of a construction sector death rate more than 10 times that of the country's average, with 97.4 fatalities per 100,000 construction workers (compared to the national median of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 workers).

Handling your workplace injury

If you have been injured on the job or are dealing with an occupational disease, you realize that the worker's compensation system is a complicated maze of red tape, paperwork and tedium. This stress is magnified if you have tragically lost a loved one and are seeking survivor or death benefits. Having an attorney by your side can make the process much easier, and might even prevent you from having to appeal a denied claim.

Keywords: Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Occupational Disease