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AFL-CIO reports on rise in workplace fatalities

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations has released a report called, "Death on the Job, The Toll of Neglect, 2018." Among its findings is a rise in workplace fatalities from 4,836 in 2015 to 5,190 in 2016. This comes to 150 employees dying every day due to hazardous working conditions. The report also estimates that there were between 50,000 and 60,000 deaths in Georgia and across the U.S. due to occupational diseases.

Some workers were more likely to die than others. Latinos saw the highest fatality rate with 3.7 per 100,000 workers (the national average is 3.6). Workers aged 55 or older composed 36 percent of the fatalities. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry is the deadliest with a fatality rate of 23.2 per 100,000 workers.

In the construction industry, no change was made to its fatality rate of 10.1 per 100,000 workers. However, this industry saw the most number of deaths: 991 in 2016, an increase from the previous year's 937. It is followed by the transportation and warehousing industry, which recorded 825 employee deaths.

Experts say that the most hazardous occupations are those that involve manual labor and working with machinery or vehicles. Overwork and sleep problems also raise the risk of accidents. Temp workers in blue-collar jobs may also fail to receive adequate safety training.

Even when employers fulfill their duty to protect their employees, though, the latter may injure themselves or others. In cases of injuries or work-related deaths where the employer is not to blame, victims or their family (or another eligible dependent) can file for workers' compensation benefits. It might be advisable to hire a lawyer for the filing and, if necessary, for the appeal. Injury benefits could cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Death benefits include burial expenses.

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