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Nationwide worker death rate increases in 2016

Connecticut residents may be interested to know that the number of people killed in workplace accidents across the United States went up 7 percent in 2016 over 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the rate of workplace fatalities increased from 3.4 to 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

More workers were killed in transportation accidents in 2016 than in any other category. One in every four workers who died did so in a transportation-related accident. The second highest cause of fatal injuries was workplace violence, which increased 23 percent. The number of workers who died from overdosing on the job increased by 32 percent. This is higher than usual as the rate of drug-related deaths has increased 25 percent annually since 2012, the federal agency said.

The 2016 death rate, which has increased for three consecutive years, is the highest since 2008, according to the agency. A spokesperson for the AFL-CIO noted the statistics indicate that about 14 people died every day from workplace injuries. The spokesperson also noted that OSHA has such limited staff and resources that it can inspect businesses only once every 150 years. If the OSHA's budget is cut, it could mean more workers are injured or killed in workplace accidents because OSGA doesn't have the resources to enforce safety regulations, the AFL-CIO representative said.

These statistics are grim for workers, and Connecticut residents who suffer workplace injuries may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits under state law. These benefits may apply to survivors of workers killed on the job and can include burial expenses and wage replacement to immediate family survivors if the worker who died was the family's main breadwinner. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to explain available benefits and help survivors obtain them.

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