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Workplace fatalities increase 2 percent in 2014

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that is conducted annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 U.S. workers died in 2014 from work-related injuries and illnesses, a 2 percent increase over the 4,585 worker fatalities recorded in 2013. Pennsylvania workers might want to be aware that trips, slips and falls accounted for a 10 percent increase in 2014 deaths, from 724 to 793. This was mainly because of a large increase in falls to lower levels from 595 to 647.

There was a 9 percent increase in the number of worker deaths among those aged 55 and over from 1,490 in 2013 to 1,621 in 2014, which is the highest number of cases that the CFOI has ever reported. While there was a 3 percent decline in deadly work injuries for Latino and Hispanic workers, there was a rise in fatal injuries for African-American, Asian and non-Hispanic white workers. Although women only accounted for 8 percent of total worker deaths for the year, there was a 13 percent rise in female work-related fatalities.

Private goods-producing industries also reported a 9 percent increase in worker fatalities, but the number was slightly lower for private service-providing industries and 12 percent lower for government workers. The fatal injury reports were 6 percent higher in construction, 9 percent higher in manufacturing, 14 percent higher in agriculture and 17 percent higher in mining. Police officer and supervisor deaths increased 17 percent as well.

Additionally, 797 of the workers who died in 2014 were contract workers, which is 6 percent more than the previous year and amounts to 17 percent of total work-related fatalities. There was also a 10 percent rise in self-employed worker deaths.

In Pennsylvania, the surviving family members of a person who was killed in a fatal workplace accident may have the right to obtain workers' compensation death benefits. An attorney can often provide assistance in preparing and filing the required claim.

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