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Connecticut: Statistics show work-related deaths lower in 2011

The Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health Statistics Unit has been measuring the consequences of accidents at work since 1992. Those statistics include workplace fatalities due to unsafe working environments and employer negligence.

Connecticut has seen 40 workplace deaths each year on average, and the highest number of workplace fatalities was recorded in 1998. That year 57 people died on the job, including five who were shot at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Newington on Mar. 6, 1998.

The lowest number of workplace fatalities was in 2008, when 28 people died on the job. OSHA reports that national workplace deaths were also lower that year. In 2010, 49 people died of work-related injuries, including the murder-suicide of nine at a warehouse in Manchester in August 2010. Additionally, in February 2010, six people died at an energy plant explosion while the plant was under construction.

In 2011, the number of yearly work-related deaths decreased to 36, including the death of a worker who fell from a Stamford roof, as well as a firefighter from Windsor who died of heart failure while he was responding to a call.

One researcher pointed out that the number of fatalities might have fallen because of the weakened economy. When the unemployment numbers go up, workplace fatalities go down. Furthermore, industries that have higher workplace fatalities, such as in construction, are often the hardest hit during a recession.

Not all workplace fatalities are caused by employer negligence or unsafe working conditions, but too often that is the case. No matter the cause of a workplace injury, injured employees or their families need to know that there are laws designed to help them.

Connecticut residents who have been affected by a work-related injury would do well to consult with an attorney who is fluent in workers' compensation law. Employers and insurance companies will try to deny a worker's injury claim, and in that case the best course of action is to seek legal help.

Source: The Day, "State workplace deaths drop in 2011," Barbara Nagy, Sept. 21, 2012

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