It's hard to think of unemployment as having an upside. With over 9 percent of the labor force out of work, finding a silver lining isn’t easy. However, as a result of higher unemployment fewer people are getting injured or killed on the job.
- Workplace fatalities at record low
- High unemployment linked to trend
- Workers' compensation risk adjusts with workforce composition
Record Low Workplace Fatalities
Good news! The US Department of Labor (DOL) released a report saying on-the-job deaths fell 17 percent last year - the lowest level in nearly two decades. The 2009 figure is the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began recording data on workplace facilities in 1992.
Unfortunately, higher unemployment played a big part in the decline, and part of that was from the construction industry. It had a 17.3 percent unemployment rate in 2009, nearly twice the rate of non-construction jobs. It’s also one of the riskiest jobs for deaths and injuries.
For the most part, worker’s compensation is the main solution if you've been injured or had a loved one killed on the job. But filing a lawsuit could be necessary if you want to hold someone other than your employer responsible. For example, if faulty equipment was the cause, you could file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Workers' compensation claims can be complicated, and if not filed on time and in proper form, not awarded. Where to start a lawsuit or workers' compensation claim can be a tricky question. Especially when the employee’s residence, employer’s headquarters, and injury site are in different states.
Workplace Homicides, Suicides Down Too
A group of workplace fatalities, homicides and suicides, were also lower. The highest numbers of homicides occurred 1994, and 2008 for suicides.
An employer might be responsible for these deaths if it knew about the dangers and failed to take reasonable preventive measures. Other witnesses might also file claims against the employer and possibly the person or their estate.
Claimed injuries might include PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), inability to return to work (loss of income), and other physical and emotional harm.
Employers: Check Your Workers' Comp Premiums
Employers experiencing fewer workplace injuries should look for good deals on workers' compensation insurance. It could mean substantial premiums savings. Also, if an employer has changed its workforce by job category – exempt, nonexempt or type of job, this can also reduce premiums.
For example, if an employer cuts more heavy labor or machine operator positions than clerical jobs there is less risk for the insurer. This should make workers' comp insurance premiums cheaper.
Remember the sooner a workers’ compensation claim is entered, the faster and more likely it’ll get approved. Be sure to check the guidelines in your state or with a workers' compensation lawyer.
Questions for Your Attorney
- What can I do if my employer ignores an obvious safety hazard?
- Is workers' comp my sole remedy if I'm hurt by a coworker's practical joke?
- What if I'm assaulted by a coworker?