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Workplace injury numbers prove the need for safety protections

Some disturbing statistics were released recently by a national labor organization. The AFL-CIO labor federation issued a report concluding that more than 4,600 workers in the United States were killed on the job in 2012. Perhaps even more chilling is the statistic that about 50,000 died from occupational diseases in the same year. The annual report was based on federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data regarding the incidence of workplace injury and occupational injuries nationwide, including in Colorado.

The only silver lining in the report was the conclusion that the death rate among workers in this country has been declining on a permanent basis. The organization commented that the United States has clearly made progress in dealing with the causes of workplace injury and death. However, the statistics still show an intolerable number of injuries and deaths, including deaths relating to occupational injuries or diseases.

The study noted that workers attracted to work in the oil and gas industries, which are currently booming, are placed in situations of exceptionally high risk in return for the higher pay that they receive. In keeping with the findings of prior years, Latinos are more likely to suffer an on-the-job accident. This apparently is directly related to the plight of undocumented immigrants who tend to come from the Latin American countries. However, even in this category the death rate has fallen significantly in recent years.

With reference to the high volume of occupational injuries and deaths, the organization called for increased vigilance against the ravages of silica dust at construction sites. The compound can cause debilitating lung conditions and lung cancer. Labor groups and environmental experts have called for the mandatory lowering of the amount of silica dust allowed in the air at construction sites.

In Colorado and all other states, an occupational disease or injury is classified as a workplace injury. Such conditions are covered for workers' compensation benefits. Generally, each state has a section of its workers' compensation statute devoted to the rules and description of benefits payable to workers who suffer occupational diseases or injuries.

Source: The Huffington Post, "More Than 4,600 U.S. Workers Were Killed On The Job In 2012", Dave Jamieson, May 8, 2014

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