What is the leading cause of workplace fatalities?
It may be surprising to some, but motor vehicle accidents are the overwhelming leading cause of workplace fatalities in the U.S. In fact, car accidents and truck accidents account for 40% of job-related deaths each year, according to the National Safety Council. Motor vehicle accidents are the first or second cause of job-related death across all industry groups.
Motor vehicle workplace deaths by industry
All workers can be at risk of a fatal work-related crash, whether or not driving is a major part of their job duties. Of course, some industries are more prone than others. Not surprisingly, workers who drive a vehicle as a primary part of their job including truck drivers, delivery drivers, and first responders face the highest risk. They can also cause the greatest damage.
Consider the fact that one in three long-haul truck drivers have experienced a serious crash during their career according to published industry statistics. EMS first responders, garbage collectors, bus drivers, taxi drivers, traveling salespeople, and highway construction workers also face a higher risk for fatal crashes on the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the CDC, the highest proportion of roadway fatalities involved a semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks (38%), followed by pickup trucks (14%), delivery trucks/vans (11%), and automobiles (9%).
How employers can help prevent work-related car and truck accident deaths
Many of the car, truck, and pedestrian accidents that claim workers’ lives every year can be prevented. Employers can take an active role in protecting their workers and other motorists on the road by enacting policies that prioritize safety. This includes steps such as:
- Implement procedures that emphasize safety – Communicate to employees that they are expected to drive in a safe responsible manner, schedule workloads and deadlines to allow drivers to travel at a safe speed and within hours-of-service regulations, and implement a process for investigating and responding to work-related crashes or safety policy violations
- Make safety part of company policy – Require drivers to wear seat belts, ban the use of handheld devices while driving, prohibit the use of drugs or alcohol while on the clock. Distribute information about the risks of sleep disorders that can affect driving safety and provide access to screenings for these kinds of disorders.
- Hiring practices – Conduct background checks of driving records for all new hires.
- Driver training – Perform thorough training for all drivers specific to the vehicle they will be operating. Provide regular evaluations and refresher courses for all drivers.
- Vehicle maintenance – Perform regular inspection and maintenance on all company vehicles.
Workers’ compensation and workplace fatalities
If someone is killed while performing their job duties, their family is entitled to seek workers’ compensation death benefits.
At the same time, if another person or company other than your loved one’s employer is responsible for your loved one’s death, you may be able to bring an additional claim against a third party. For example, our experienced auto accident attorneys have represented the families of truck drivers who were killed in a crash while working.
If you or someone close to you has been seriously injured in a workplace-related auto accident, we are here to help. Our experienced, compassionate auto accident and truck accident lawyers at Bashore Green can help you navigate the specifics so that you can be eligible for what you are entitled to.