Government data sheds light on nature of Maryland work fatalities

Survivors of those who suffer work-related death should investigate the right to Workers' Compensation death benefits or a third-party lawsuit

The federal government keeps detailed statistics about the nature of workplace injury, illness and death. The most recent figures for fatal Maryland occupational injuries are from 2015 and provide more understanding of what workers face in our workplaces. Some of this information may be surprising to readers.

By the numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, provided this data in conjunction with state agencies. Deaths from occupational illnesses are excluded, unless they developed following work injuries. Of the 69 total Maryland work-related deaths in 2015, almost half were transportation incidents. Some may find the level of death from violence unexpected:

  • Transportation incidents: 26
  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals: 16
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 10
  • Falls, slips and trips: 9
  • Contact with objects and equipment: 7

Other relevant Maryland findings include:

  • Employees died far more often (57) than did self-employed individuals (12).
  • Many more men died that year from work injuries (66) than women (3) did.
  • The deaths were fairly equally distributed among age groups.
  • More than half of these deaths were of white, non-Hispanic people (38), followed by Black or African American (17), Hispanic or Latino (9) and Asian (4).
  • Occupations with significant numbers of deaths include transportation and material moving; construction and extraction; and trade, transportation and utilities (service providing).

Looking nationally and still using 2015 data, the BLS names the top-three jobs with the highest death rate per 100,000 workers:

  • Logging workers
  • Fishers
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

The top-three jobs with the most deaths by number:

  • Semi-truck drivers
  • Farmers and ranchers
  • Construction laborers

The representation of these jobs in these categories is not surprising, considering their nature, which underscores the importance of employers and government regulators doing everything possible to keep work premises and processes as safe as possible. However, severe injury can even occur in workplaces that do not present as many obvious hazards.

Potential legal remedies

Whatever the scenario, whenever a surviving family member is left behind after a loved one suffers a work-related death, the survivor should speak with an attorney about what legal rights the relative (or other dependent) has to Workers' Compensation death benefits. In some cases, the survivor may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against a negligent party like a manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment or the owner of dangerous work premises.

Maryland Workers' Compensation death benefits may provide benefits to surviving dependents like funeral expenses and payments representing a portion of the decedent's wages.

At the Maryland law firm of Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg, P.A., with six offices throughout the state, the attorneys represent the families of those who have died from work-related injuries and diseases in workers' compensation death claims and wrongful death lawsuits against responsible third parties, if appropriate.