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Workplace deaths rise, shows need for culture of safety

From 2017 to 2018, the number of work-related fatalities in the U.S. rose 2% from 5,147 to 5,250. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS states that the rate of work-related fatalities remains the same: 3.5% per 100,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) workers. Employees in Minnesota, regardless of their industry, will want to know more.

Drivers, sales workers and truckers saw the most number of work-related deaths. Transportation incidents were the most common of all fatal incidents, making up 40% of them. There was an increase of 12% in the number of deaths arising from unintentional non-medical drug overdoses or alcohol overconsumption and of 11% in work-related suicides.

Citing these findings in a recent statement, the National Safety Council is encouraging employers to do all they can for employees' safety rather than assume that fatalities are simply the cost of running a business. There should be a systematic approach to safety, incorporating things like regular training, improvements to safety equipment and clearer techniques for risk identification and assessment.

Those in leadership positions must take the initiative as not only employees but also investors and regulators expect them to be responsible for their company's culture. The goal is to build up a safety-oriented culture.

Those who incur workplace injuries, regardless of who was at fault, may be able to file a claim under workers' compensation law. The benefits will cover medical expenses accrued up to the point when the worker achieved maximum medical improvement. It can also cover a portion of lost wages and, if applicable, short- or long-term disability leave. To ensure a smooth filing process, victims may want legal representation. The lawyer may also assist with filing an appeal should the employer deny payment on the grounds that the victim was negligent.

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