Tag - data

Workplace Injuries by the Numbers

Every year, millions of people are injured in the workplace. Many of these injuries are unavoidable accidents. No matter how many safety regulations are put in place, some injuries are either unavoidable or unforeseeable. However, many workplace accidents are entirely preventable through following government and industry-mandated safety procedures. (You only need to take a look at r/OSHA to see that safety regulations are sometimes ignored.)

What’s worse is that many of these workplace injuries result in death. In 2013 (the most recent year for which there’s data available), there were 4.8 million workplace injuries and 3,700 workplace deaths. While still relatively uncommon, each death is a tragedy that businesses and government should take every measure to avoid.

To better understand the problem, we researched the most common causes of workplace injuries and deaths in the United States.

Most workplace injuries happen in the government sector, followed by Educational and Health Services and Manufacturing.

Workplace injuries by industry

 

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on overall workplace injuries by job sector. An injury can be anything from a relatively minor scrape to a serious wound. The most injuries of all types occur in the government sector because relatively more people work in government than in more dangerous professions like construction, for example.

The most commonly injured body parts are the trunk, legs, and head.

Workplace injury by body part affected

According to BLS data, workplace injuries most frequently occur on the trunk, which makes up 233,340 cases, or 30%. After that, leg injuries make up 30% of the total, and injuries on the head comprise 10%. A catchall category—“multiple parts”—makes up 13%.

Most workplace deaths occur in construction, transportation, and warehousing.

Workplace deaths by industry

As you may expect, construction workers are the single largest group represented in workplace deaths with 770 deaths reported in 2013 (again the year with the most recent data available). Approximately one in five workplace deaths in the United States happen on construction sites.

After construction, transportation and warehousing make up the second largest portion of workplace deaths, with 625, or 17% of the total.

Falls are the leading cause of construction site injuries

Top causes of injury for construction workers

According to OSHA data, falls account for the largest single portion of workplace injuries. While most of the rest of workplace injuries are uncategorized, the next leading causes are being caught in or between machinery and electrocutions.

But these numbers are just the raw total number of incidents. To really see which professions are the most dangerous, we have to look at the number of workplace deaths relative to the number of workers in the industry.

Per capita, the most dangerous sectors are agriculture, mining, and transportation.

Worker mortality rate by industry

It actually turns out that agriculture is the single most dangerous industry, in terms of workplace fatalities, accounting for approximately 21.7 deaths per 100k full-time workers. Mining follows next with 12.2, then transportation and warehousing with 11.9. Construction comes in fourth with 9.1 fatalities per 100k full-time workers.

It’s worth keeping in perspective that on-the-job fatalities only make up a relatively small portion of the accidental deaths in the United States.

More than half of accidental deaths happen at home.

Unintentional injury related death by class

66,000 accidental deaths—about 50.7%—happen at home. Just over a quarter—25.3% happen on-the-job. The vast majority of the rest happen in public, mostly by automobile accident.

Even though some professions are more dangerous, accidental death can happen to anyone. Safety is important for everyone. If you’re ever put in a dangerous position at work, bring it up with your supervisor, and, if that doesn’t work, consider hiring a lawyer.

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A Personal Injury Lawsuit Analysis

The U.S. has an astounding number of personal injury lawsuits every year. In 2014 alone, there were almost 300,000 lawsuits filed. That’s an average of 1 lawsuit per every 1,150 people in the country. Very often, plaintiffs make legitimate claims in these lawsuits. Faulty equipment, lack of adherence to safety regulations, and other factors can cause people to get seriously injured and entitled to compensation for their medical care and suffering.

Unfortunately, not all personal injury lawsuits are legitimate. Some people just want to use lawsuits to make easy money, and will find fault with everything from overheated cups of coffee to inadequate warning labels on machinery.

While it may be nearly impossible to quantify the legitimacy of personal injury lawsuits, it is indisputable that they play a major part in the United States justice system. For better or for worse, consumer protection laws provide monetary and legal recourse for those who feel they’ve been wronged.

With this in mind, we decided to research the aspects of personal injury lawsuits that can be quantified, starting with: just how many are filed each year. These charts explore the fluctuations in lawsuits filed over the last ten years, the number of lawsuits filed per region of the country, and the number of lawsuits filed per state.

Though we often hear about personal injury lawsuits in the news, they don’t actually comprise the majority of civil lawsuits in the U.S. Only a quarter of the lawsuits filed annually are personal injury suits. Still, 76,000 suits is an impressive number for just “a quarter” of the total lawsuits filed.

all-lawsuits-filed

There has clearly been an uptick of personal injury lawsuits filed over the course of the last several years. The average number of lawsuits filed per year has jumped from just over 50,000 between 2004 and 2007 (including one outlier of a year in 2006) to more than 70,000 in the years after that, a 40% jump in less than a decade. See how the numbers break down for each individual year.

lawsuits-filed-2004-2014

As is evident from the next two maps, there are wide discrepancies in the number of lawsuits filed in different regions of the country. The West has half as many lawsuits filed as the Midwest and Northeast, and less than 4% as many lawsuits as the South (and if you look at the breakdown by state, we think you can find the reason why).

lawsuits-region

And finally, after sifting through all these numbers, we stumbled upon what seemed like a mathematical error, but is in fact, true. The takeaway: What’s the deal with West Virginia??? While it’s understandable that some states will have more lawsuits filed than others, it’s absurd for one state to have 300 times as many lawsuits filed (even adjusted for population). Pretty unbelievable.

lawsuits-wVA

Our analysis revealed some very surprising insights but also led to even more questions. Why were so fewer people injured in 2007 compared to 2006? Why are fewer personal injury suits filed in the Western half of the country? And most importantly, what’s going on in West Virginia?

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