The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Worker's Memorial Day in memory of killed and injured workers

North Carolina workers may not be aware that Worker's Memorial Day was last month. It is a day to remember those workers who sustained injuries on the job or who died due to workplace injuries and to renew the effort to create a safe working environment for workers across the country. However, according to a representative of the AFL-CIO Community Services Labor Liaison, the day often ends up going unnoticed and only when a catastrophic accident takes place is the issue of workplace safety brought into the limelight.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created around 40 years ago with the agenda to give every worker a safe job. Even though workplace conditions have improved since the agency's inception, workers are still injured on the job every day. And they may not be aware that it is their right to file a workers' compensation claim to recover compensation to cover medical expenses associated with their injury.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 81 fewer deaths caused by workplace injuries in 2011 than in 2010, but fatalities were still well above 4,000. North Carolina residents may not be aware that in case of a workplace fatality, family members may be able to file a workers' compensation claim.

However, more prevalent are those accidents that are not fatal. According to statistics from the year 2011, there were 3 million non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries in the private sector and more than 800,000 in the public sector. Many of these accidents leave workers unable to perform their job and forced to find a different job in another sector.

To avoid these situations, creating a culture of workplace safety should be an employer's first priority. Where they do not do so, injured workers may be able to file a workers' compensation claim, not only to recover compensation to cover lost wages, but also to raise awareness about the unsafe working environment in an attempt to make it safer.

Source: jconline.com, "Memorial morns workplace deaths," Emily Champion, April 29, 2013

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