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Workplace deaths rise for third consecutive year

Virginia workers have reason to worry about workplace injuries, especially following the release of a report on fatalities on the job in 2016. For the third consecutive year, workplace fatalities grew in number, rising by 7 percent in 2016 over the number of on-the-job deaths in 2015. The increase in the number of fatal workplace injuries was accompanied by a percentage increase as well; the fatality rate in 2015 was 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers while in 2016 it rose to 3.6 per 100,000.

There were a few major causes of many of the workplace injuries that led to fatal incidents. The single most common cause of workplace deaths as transportation-related incidents, such as auto accidents. However, in a troubling trend, workplace violence fatalities rose by 23 percent in 2016, leading to violence being the second-largest cause of deaths on the job. Another major increase in 2016 reflected the general public health crisis about opiate overdoses as on-the-job fatal overdoses spiked by 32 percent in 2016. Drug-related fatalities in the workplace have increased by at least 25 percent every year since 2012.

In 2016, 5,190 workers were killed from on-the-job injuries, the highest number since 2008. This means that 14 workers died each day of the year from workplace injuries. There were some distinct statistics pointing to particular dangers and trends in 2016, including a 9.9 percent increase in deaths among workers aged 55 or older. Deaths among non-Hispanic Asian workers increased by 40 percent over 2015 while deaths among black or African-American workers rose by 18.6 percent over the previous year.

People who have been injured on the job may be concerned about how to protect their rights and secure the benefits that they are entitled to, especially as medical bills and ongoing consequences continue after the initial injury. A workers' compensation lawyer may be able to help the victims of workplace injuries secure their rights and protect their financial futures.

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