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Leep, Tescher, Helfman and Zanze

BLS: fatal on-the-job injuries more numerous among the elderly

Between 1992 and 2017, the number of U.S. workers 55 and older has more than doubled. Yet in that same time period, the number of fatal occupational injuries among these workers rose 56%. California residents should know that this was in spite of a 17% decline in overall fatal occupational injuries.

This was only the first of the many findings that the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in January 2020 in the Monthly Labor Review. The BLS found that workers 65 and older were especially dying on the job more frequently. The fatality rates were as follows: 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers overall, 4.6 per 100,000 FTE workers for those aged 55 to 64 and 10.3 per 100,000 FTE workers for those 65 and older.

From 1992 to 2017, there were 38,200 workers who died who were 55 or older. They made up 26% of all occupational fatalities. In 2017, there were 775 fatally injured workers who were 65 or older. This was 87 more cases than in 2016 and 66% more cases than in 1992.

Now, 3,217 of the 38,200 fatalities were farmers, and 3,772 were drivers of heavy-duty or tractor-trailer trucks. These two industries, then, were the deadliest. The percentage of fatally injured truck drivers was roughly the same among young and old.

It’s possible for the families of fatally injured workers to seek workers’ compensation benefits. They are called death benefits in this case, and they can cover burial expenses, the cost of any medical treatment the decedent underwent before passing away and a percentage of the decedent’s weekly income. Employers can deny payment, though, especially if they have reason to believe the decedent was to blame for his or her own fatal injuries. It may be wise, then, to have legal counsel.