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At least 79 workers died in Florida in job-related accidents in the first seven months of 2015, giving the state one of the highest worker death totals in the country, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Worker Fatality Database.
The database is a project that was launched in April by several organizations, including the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and the AFL-CIO.
It contains information on deaths caused by “traumatic on-the-job events.”The information is drawn from news reports as well as local, state and national sources such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports.
In early August, the Database reported that its volunteer researchers had recorded 1,073 worker fatalities in the U.S. between January and July 2015, including the 79 deaths in Florida.
The only states with higher death totals were Texas (124) and California (90). New York was a distant fourth with 54 deaths.
According to a press release issued by organizers of the Database, it contains “more identifying information” about worker fatalities as well as more up-to-date information than what can be found in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which is issued each year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unlike the CFOI, the Database provides the deceased workers’ names and details about the accidents which led to their deaths. Also, the information is significantly more current than the CFOI. For instance, the latest CFOI available at the BLS website contains information from 2013.
If you look at the Database’s information for Florida through the first seven months of 2015, you can see that the majority of deaths occurred within the construction industry, or 29 of the 79 fatalities (36.7 percent). They included several deaths caused by electrocution, contact with heavy machinery and falls from heights.
However, many other deaths occurred within manufacturing, transportation and shipping, landscaping and other industries. For example, one worker died in May in Orlando when he was driving a lawn mower on a grassy median on State Route 528. A car crossed the median and killed him, according to the Database.
Additionally, the Database provides a map, timeline and a chart that shows the number of deaths by industry. Construction, on a national level, accounted for the most deaths with 379, or 36.9 percent. The industry labeled as “police, firefighters and federal employees had the second-highest with 112 (10.4 percent).
The goal of the Database is to provide insights into why workers are dying so more can be done to prevent these tragedies.
Through Florida’s workers’ compensation system, a deceased worker’s spouse, children and, in some circumstances, parents and siblings may be eligible to receive death benefits.
These benefits may total up to $150,000 and include up to $7,500 in funeral expenses, lost-income benefits and educational benefits.
Depending on the facts of a case, a worker’s family may also be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against a non-employer, non-co-worker who caused the worker’s death. This is known as a “third-party liability claim.”
For instance, if a worker died in a vehicle accident caused by a third party, a claim could be pursued against that party. The recovery may exceed what is available through the workers’ compensation system by a significant amount.
If your loved one has died on the job in Orlando, Winter Park or elsewhere in Florida, it is important to contact an experienced workplace accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights and the options available to you.