According to OSHA, in fiscal year 2012, 33 workers were fatally injured in the workplace in South Florida, an increase from 25 workers killed the year before. The vast majority of those killed on the job were men involved in roofing, construction, and landscaping industries. Falls, electrocutions, equipment accidents, and car accidents in Miami and across the region were some of the more common reasons for job-related fatalities last year.
OSHA also reported that across Florida 227 workers were killed in the workplace in fiscal year 2013. This is an increase of two workers compared to the year before. Safety experts say that it is a worrying trend because over the past three years the number of job-related fatalities was actually decreasing steadily.
In fiscal year 2012, construction site accidents in Miami and across the state were associated with the highest number of job-related fatalities. That year, 41 workers in the construction industry were killed on the job. Of these, 12 deaths were caused by transportation accidents and 15 were caused by falls. That same year, the warehousing industries and transportation industries reported 36 job-related fatalities together, which made them the second-most dangerous occupations in the state.
OSHA oversees safety at public workplaces and makes unannounced visits to ensure that workplaces are safe. However, safety experts say that budget cuts and reduced staff at OSHA have meant that the agency most often only visits after an accident or safety violation. In fiscal year 2012, the agency made 74 investigations across Florida, levying $521,475 in fines and penalties against employers who violated safety rules. Some safety experts question why only an average of $7000 per incident was levied in penalties. According to OSHA, limits on penalties and other enforcement actions are set by the government.
According to safety experts, everyone has a role to play in preventing on-the-job injuries in Miami and across Florida. Employers can help by instituting safety measures and raising awareness about common workplace dangers. For example, a few years ago OSHA reported a number of drowning fatalities among landscapers. Once employers increased awareness of the problem and installed additional safety devices on mowers, the numbers of these instances dropped. In fiscal year 2012, there was only one such fatality.
Employees also have a role to play. Obeying safety rules helps address issues which are not easily legislated. For example, workers can make the workplace safer for everyone by staying focused on the job and avoiding on-the-job distractions such as mobile devices (which can be especially dangerous in higher-risk occupations such as construction and transportation).
In a situation where a worker is injured on the job, they may qualify for workers compensation and other benefits in Miami or their place of work. However, if the accident and injury were caused by a defective product or third party, the worker may also be able to file a legal claim to get compensation for their injuries. To find out more and to find out about all your options, contact the Flaxman Law Group today to review your case with a personal injury attorney. Your initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation.