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New Findings Available About 2011 U.S. Work Fatalities

The year 2011 saw 4,609 work fatalities in the United States, slightly down from the total reported in 2010. This data is part of the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, or CFOI, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also called the BLS, part of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The agency in a recent news release noted that it uses many data sources in compiling its annual CFOI, including government and “independent data sources” and that for the 2011 report, more than 20,000 documents were reviewed. Preliminary 2011 numbers were released in autumn 2012, with final numbers expected in spring 2013.

Here are some of the major 2011 CFOI preliminary findings:

  • One sector in which fatalities declined since the year before was the private construction industry. However, fewer deaths in construction work in the short term may be because of downward economic pressure on the numbers of construction projects. Yet, looking at the longer term fatality rate in construction shows that it has declined more than 40 percent since 2006.
  • Another sector in which fatalities went down in 2011 was the private mining industry. Of note, the drop in mining deaths may be because of 2010 spike due to one large mining accident.
  • One sector in which the fatality rate increased significantly over that in 2010 was private truck transportation at a 14 percent rise.
  • The top fatality rates by event were in transportation incidents (41 percent); acts of violence by people or animals, including homicides (17 percent); contact with equipment and other objects, including being struck (15 percent); falls, slips and trips, including falling to a lower level (14 percent); exposure to dangerous environments and substances (9 percent); and explosions and fires (3 percent).
  • Broadly, fatal injury rates rose among African-American and Hispanic workers and dropped among white workers.
  • Fatal work injury rates rose steeply among employees 20 to 24 years old, and dropped among those 55 or older and under 18.

Colorado Remedies For Work Injury, Disease And Death

The CFOI shows that Colorado had 87 fatal work injuries in 2011, just up by two over the previous year. Consistent with national trends, the state’s highest number of work-related deaths (34) grew out of transportation incidents.

If you are injured at work in Colorado, or a loved one dies because of a work-related injury or occupational disease, you should apply for workers’ compensation, which is usually the exclusive legal remedy for employment-related injury, disease or death, no matter whose fault the incident was.

However, in certain narrow circumstances it may be possible to also bring a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for additional damages. For example, a third party may have some legal responsibility like the manufacturer of faulty work equipment that contributed to a workplace accident or a landlord who allowed dangerous conditions to exist on work premises. Damages may be available for work injury in a personal injury suit that are not under workers’ comp such as for pain and suffering.

Be sure to consult an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney whenever you are injured or a relative killed in a workplace incident or because of an occupational disease.

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