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Fallen Workers to Be Honored on Workers' Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Day graphic.

Workplaces can be dangerous, which is why Workers’ Memorial Day this month is so important to recognize. Created in 1970, this annual event remembers people who died due to work-related injuries or illnesses.

“On Workers Memorial Day, as we remember the people whose jobs claimed their lives, we must recognize that behind these numbers, there are people who mourn each loss,” Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in a Department of Labor announcement. “For them, these statistics are loved ones: they’re parents, children, siblings, relatives, friends, or co-workers.”

Workplace fatalities inspired the creation of Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day will be held on Sunday, April 28, 2024. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) created the annual event in response to the large number of workplace fatalities. At the time, 38 people died each year on average due to a work-related accident. Specifically, 13,870 people died in work-related accidents in 1970, according to the Department of Labor announcement.

“On this day of remembrance, we should reflect on what might have prevented their loss and recommit ourselves to doing all we can — and all that can be done — to safeguard workers and to fulfill our moral obligation and duty as a nation to protect America’s workers,” OSHA’s Parker said.

Workplace fatalities have declined overall since 1970

One of the reasons officials created Workers’ Memorial Day more than half a century ago was to help raise awareness and reduce the number of workplace fatalities. Based on the latest work-related fatality statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the plan worked.

In 2022, a total of 5,486 people died in work-related accidents nationwide. Compared to 1970, that’s a 60.4 percent decrease in workplace fatalities. However, compared to more recent years, fatal workplace accidents have gotten worse again.

In recent years, work-related deaths are on the rise

While the number of workplace fatalities for 2022 is better than in 1970, they’re heading in the wrong direction in recent years. In 2021, there were 5,190 workplace fatalities nationwide, according to BLS data cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s 5.7 percent more deaths in 2022 compared to 2021.

Those numbers are even worse compared to 2020. According to BLS data, in 2020, there were 4,764 workplace fatalities nationwide. That’s 8.9 percent more deaths than in 2021 and 15.1 percent more than in 2022.

Worst of all, these numbers don’t include many long-term work-related illnesses. According to the CDC, an estimated 460,534 to 709,792 people die each year due to fatal workplace illnesses. And that number could even be higher, the CDC noted.

Workplace fatalities in California

Like the rest of the country, workplace fatalities have been on the rise in recent years in California. According to the most recent workplace fatality statistics compiled by the BLS, since 2017, workplace fatalities have increased every year in California. In 2017, there were 376 workplace deaths in California. In 2022, there were 504 workplace fatalities statewide, the most of any year in at least a decade in California, according to statistics compiled by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI).

What are the common causes of fatal workplace accidents?

While the numbers keep changing each year, many of the causes of workplace fatalities nationwide and in California remain the same. According to the most recent workplace fatality statistics compiled by the BLS and the CFOI, the most common causes of workplace fatalities in California and nationwide in 2022 were:

  • Work-related transportation accidents – 2,066 deaths nationwide and 133 in California.
  • Violent attacks at work – 849 deaths nationwide, 97 in California.
  • Exposure to harmful substances – 839 deaths nationwide, 132 deaths in California.
  • Fatal slip, trip, and fall accidents – 865 deaths nationwide, 79 in California.
  • Struck by equipment or an object – 738 deaths nationwide, 55 in California.

How a workers’ compensation attorney can help if you were hurt at work

Workers’ compensation claims in California often quickly turn into complicated legal cases. Sometimes, it's because your workers’ compensation application was not filled out correctly. Other times, it’s because your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company denies or delays your claim.

Whatever the circumstances of your legal case, Robert A. McLaughlin, APC, can help you every step of the way. We know what to do because we have been doing this work for years. As a result, we know how to help injured workers and their families demand the workers’ compensation benefits they rightfully deserve.

Get a law firm that knows how to do the job right. Contact us to schedule a free case review. Our offices are in San Diego, Chula Vista, and Temecula.

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