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US workers suffer 11.4 million illnesses or injuries per year

Each year, the group AFL-CIO analyzes workplace accident data from across the nation and publishes a report called “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” The 2014 version of that report was recently released, and the numbers are shocking. Every single year, approximately 3.8 million illnesses or injuries suffered on the job are reported across the nation.

That number itself is staggering, but the AFL-CIO noted that this number is most likely much higher in reality. A major problem across the country is the underreporting of workplace injuries or illnesses. When this is factored into the equation, the estimate could be as high as 11.4 million per year.

As for workplace fatalities, approximately 150 people lose their lives per day while at their place of employment. A total of 4,628 fatalities occurred in the year 2012, the last year in which national injury data was available for the report. A total of 146 of those reported fatalities occurred in North Carolina, with the largest percentage occurring in transportation incidents.

A lot of these accidents occur on worksites that aren’t as safe as they could be. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is the agency in charge of enforcing safety regulations, and in the year 2013 the agency collected $570,075 in penalties across the North Carolina. The average penalty per investigation in the state was $15,835.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka considers workplace safety an issue of the utmost importance. His exact words were that “It is unconscionable that any worker has to choose between life and putting food on the table.” It may be safe to assume that a lot of workers agree with that statement.

In situations in which an injury or illness occurs while a worker is on the job, an attorney can help him or her seek the workers’ compensation benefits that is due under the law.

Source: AFL-CIO, “Today’s Death Toll: 150 Workers,” Mike Hall, May 8, 2014

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