There was not a lot of good news in 2020. But one thing we can be happy about is that the rate of fatal workplace injuries dropped more than 10 percent last year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its statistics for job-related deaths in 2020. The BLS announced that 4,764 Americans died of work-related injuries last year, 10.7 percent fewer such deaths compared with 2019, when injuries killed 5,333 workers. These figures do not include most fatal occupational illnesses. Still, the numbers indicate that work was less deadly than it was in 2019 — for most people.
Some less happy findings
Looking deeper into the numbers, there are a couple of troubling findings. For one thing, the share of victims of on-the-job fatal injuries who were Latinx went up from 20.4 percent to 22.5 percent, though the overall number of Latinx deaths dropped. And women made up just 8.1 percent of victims, but 16.3 percent of workplace homicides.
A long-term trend?
It remains to be seen how much of this drop had to do with lockdowns and remote working, rather than any improvements in U.S. workplace safety. Either way, many industries, including construction and factory work, remain dangerous for employees. When someone dies from a work-related injury or illness, they usually leave behind a family that relied on their income to make ends meet.
More often, the victim survives but is severely injured. They may have to miss work for weeks or months. Often, these injuries are the result of negligence from a third party, like the manufacturer of a piece of equipment or the driver of a vehicle. When that happens, it opens up possibilities for compensation in addition to workers’ comp under New Jersey law.