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What is the leading cause of workplace fatalities?

The leading cause of work-related fatalities

Overwhelmingly, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the U.S. Car and truck crashes account for 40% of job-related deaths each year, according to the National Safety Council. Motor vehicle accidents are the #1 or #2 cause of job-related death across all industry groups.

Motor vehicle workplace deaths by industry

All workers can be at risk of a fatal work-related crash, whether or not driving is a major part of their job duties. Of course, some industries are more prone than others. Not surprisingly, workers who drive a vehicle as a primary part of their job including truck drivers, delivery drivers, and first responders face the highest risk. Consider the fact that one in three long-haul truck drivers have experienced a serious crash during their career. Motor vehicle accidents were responsible for half of workplace fatalities in the gas and oil extraction industry and 46% of work-related deaths for EMS first responders. Garbage collectors, bus drivers, taxi drivers, traveling salespeople, and highway construction workers also face a higher risk for fatal crashes on the job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the CDC, the highest proportion of roadway fatalities involved semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks (38%), followed by pickup trucks (14%), delivery trucks/vans (11%) and automobiles (9%).

How employers can help prevent work-related car and truck accident deaths

Many of the car, truck, and pedestrian accidents that claim workers’ lives every year can be prevented. Employers can take an active role in protecting their workers by enacting policies that prioritize safety. This includes steps such as:

  • Implement procedures that emphasize safety – Communicate to employees that they are expected to drive in a safe responsible manner, schedule workloads and deadlines to allow drivers to travel at a safe speed and within hours of service regulations, and implement a process for investigating and responding to work-related crashes or safety policy violations
  • Make safety part of company policy – Require drivers to wear seat belts, ban the use of handheld devices while driving, prohibit the use of drugs or alcohol while on the clock. Distribute information about the risks of sleep disorders that can affect driving safety, and provide access to screenings for these kinds of disorders.
  • Hiring practices – Conduct background checks of driving records for all new hires.
  • Driver training – Perform thorough training for all drivers specific to the vehicle they will be operating. Provide regular evaluations and refresher courses for all drivers.
  • Vehicle maintenance – Perform regular inspection and  maintenance on all company vehicles.

Workers’ compensation and workplace fatalities

If someone is killed while performing their job duties, their family is entitled to seek workers’ compensation death benefits. This includes compensation for surviving family members who depended on the deceased for financial support, as well as for costs of burial up to $3,000.00.

At the same time, if another person or company other than your loved one’s employer is responsible for your loved one’s death, you may be able to bring an additional claim against a third party. For example, our workers’ compensation lawyers have represented the families of truck drivers who were killed in a crash while working. In these cases, the family was not only eligible to collect workers’ compensation but also to take action against the driver and company of the other truck involved. We have also represented families of workers who were killed by a faulty piece of machinery while performing their jobs. We were able to bring a claim against the manufacturer of the machine.

If you lost a loved one in a fatal job-related vehicle crash or in any workplace accident, we are here to help. Our experienced, compassionate accident and injury lawyers can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and pursue any additional action against the people at fault.

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