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Worker fatalities increased in 2016

Louisiana workers may be interested to learn that workplace fatalities jumped by 7 percent in 2016, according to a new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the third consecutive year that work-related deaths have increased.

The BLS reports that 5,190 workers died in work-related accidents in 2016, which is 354 more than in 2015. The deadly injury rate in 2016 was 3.6 for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. In comparison, it was 3.4 per 100,000 in 2015. Transportation accidents were the No. 1 cause of death for workers, accounting for about 20 percent of all fatalities. The second most common cause of worker deaths was workplace violence, which spiked by 23 percent last year.

Deaths from falls, slips and trips increased by 6 percent for the general workforce in 2016 and by 25 percent for carpenters, pruners, roofers, tree trimmers and truck drivers. Meanwhile, workplace overdose deaths surged by 32 percent, marking the fifth year in a row that on-the-job drug fatalities have increased by at least 25 percent. A representative for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration called the data "tragic" and said the agency will work to reduce deaths through education and training efforts as well as enforcement and outreach.

Most Louisiana workers are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits in the event that they suffer an on-the-job injury. These benefits pay a worker's medical expenses and offer wage replacement payments while they are unable to work. In order to ensure that their claims are filed correctly, some injured workers choose to seek legal guidance. Legal counsel could also be helpful if a claim has been denied by an employer or insurance company.

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