California among safest states for workers

Some workplaces pose more risks than others. Certain industries are inherently dangerous, meaning workers are aware that they could encounter various risks in the work environment. While safety precautions are taken, this does not always prevent injuries from happening.

During 2016, which represents the most recent workplace fatality data was available, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in the United States. Among these workplace deaths, 991 were working in the construction industry. More than 25 percent or 270 of the workers who died from construction-related workplace injuries were born in places other than the United States. California had the second highest number of foreign-born worker fatalities, totaling at 151, which is just behind Texas at 156 and ahead of Florida at 104.

These numbers come from the AFL-CIO's annual compilation of workplace fatality data, entitled "Death on the Job, The Toll of Neglect." This year's report was released at the end of April, and the data shows that the 2016 on-the-job death toll was a significant increase over 2015 when workplace deaths numbered 4,836. The 2016 numbers result in a nationwide workplace fatality rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers, including all industries.

Although the number of 2016 workplace fatalities in California was rather high at 376, the state had the third lowest on-the-job fatality rate in the country, at 2.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island fared better. By contrast, Wyoming had the worst workplace fatality rate at 12.3 per 100,000. Alaska at 10.6 and Montana at 7.9 rounded out the bottom three.

On a per capita basis, the Agriculture/Forestry/Fishing/Hunting sector represented the most dangerous industries, by far. These workers died at a rate of 23.2 per 100,000 workers. The most people overall died in construction at 991. Workplace violence jumped in 2016, becoming the second most common cause of death among workers and accounting for 866 fatalities. Of these 866, 500 of the fatalities were considered homicides.

As one can see, workplace injuries can impact a wide range of industries and people. Thus, it is important to understand one's rights, such as filing for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits could help address losses, such as lost wages, medical bills and other similar damages.

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