Workers' compensation: 2018 preventable workplace death toll up

According to a report issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, the number of work-related deaths in 2018 was 422 -- compared to 376 in 2017. Too many families have to turn to the workers' compensation insurance system for financial assistance each year. A spokesperson for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says not enough is done to keep workers safe.

He says Cal/OSHA is looking at ways to improve the agency's education and enforcement efforts. The National Safety Council and the American Society of Safety Professionals share the concern over the increase in nationwide occupational fatalities. The fact that more workers die despite the development and availability of innovative tools to improve workplace safety exacerbates the level of concern.

The NSC noted that the two leading causes of occupational deaths are vehicle accidents and falls, most of which are preventable given modern technology and established health and safety strategies. Employers are urged to systematically assess their facilities for risks and hazards and implement safety protocols and training to mitigate identified risks. Hazard assessments must be a scheduled procedure to ensure new dangers are identified before they can cause injuries or deaths.

Sadly, the surviving family members of workers who lost their lives while working have to deal with unanticipated financial hardship while they grieve their lost loved ones. Fortunately, the California workers' compensation system offers survivors' benefits that will cover end-of-life expenses and benefits typically include a financial package to make up for lost wages. Navigating benefits claims at such a difficult time can be a daunting prospect, but the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can simplify the process.

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