Accidents are a part of everyday life because nobody is perfect and people make mistakes. However, many accidents could be avoided if people would spend a little more time and effort on safety. This is true in various different aspects of life, including the workplace.
In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act paved the way for safer working conditions for people in West Virginia and everywhere else in the country. While OSHA has undoubtedly made many workplaces safer than they otherwise would have been, some employers still take shortcuts when it comes to safety. So what do the numbers show when it comes to fatal accidents in the workplace?
According to data that the AFL-CIO reported, more than 4,800 lost their lives while on the job in 2014. Also during 2014, roughly 50,000 more people died of occupational diseases.
Nobody should have to give their life for trying to earn a living, and regulators continue to push for safety reforms. Just last year, for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration released a new rule aimed at reducing miners' exposure to coal dust. This is especially noteworthy for West Virginians because coal mining is such an important industry in the state.
State and federal regulators, like OSHA, don't have adequate resources to ensure that every workplace is as safe as possible. Employers must also share the responsibility by taking reasonable steps to make the safety of their workers a high priority. Many types of jobs have gotten safer over the years, but the data shows that death is still too high of a possibility for some workers.
When an employer knowingly neglects safety and a worker dies as a result, the worker's surviving family may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death cause of action. Cutting corners when it comes to safety may save some money in the short-term, but over time, it can be a ruinous choice.
Source: AFL-CIO, "Death on the Job Report," Accessed on May 6, 2016