BLS: Older workers are dying on the job at an alarming rate

| Apr 28, 2020 | Workers' Compensation |

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some data out on fatal occupational injuries that should be of interest to older workers in Minnesota. The BLS found that between 1992 and 2017, the fatal occupational injury rate went up a startling 56% for workers 55 and older despite a decrease of 17% among workers overall. A total of 38,200 older workers died in that period, accounting for 26% of all fatally injured workers.

In 2017, the overall fatal occupational injury rate was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. For those aged 55 to 64, it was 4.6 per 100,000 FTE workers, and for workers 65 and older, it came to be 10.3 per 100,000 FTE workers. Workers 65 and older saw the highest increase: 775 died in 2017, representing a 66% jump from the number in 1992.

Of the 38,200 who died, 3,217 were farmers. One in seven older workers who died on the job between 2003 and 2017 were farmers, and 98% were self-employed. Farming was not the most dangerous industry for older workers in 2017, though, as there were 3,772 heavy-duty truck drivers who died that year.

The U.S. population is aging, and the labor force has more than double the number of older workers in 2017 that it had in 1992. This is one likely reason for the spike in fatalities.

When a worker dies on the job, the immediate family or another eligible dependent may be able to get compensation through workers’ compensation. The workers’ comp program does pay out death benefits, which cover funeral and burial expenses up to a reasonable amount and reimburse the family for a percentage of the decedent’s weekly income. The family may want a lawyer to evaluate their case and help build it up, though, especially since payment may be denied by the employer.