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Study Finds Possible Connection Between Workers' Comp, Injury Rates

A new study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit public policy organization, has determined that states with low nonfatal injury rates have high fatal injury rates and vice versa. In addition, the study highlights that the construction industry generally has a higher fatal injury rate than any other industry.

Fatal Versus Nonfatal Injuries

The study found that the states with low nonfatal injury rates have high fatal injury rates. These states tend to be located in the South, have lower workers' compensation benefits, be less unionized and have workers who are paid lower wages. States with high nonfatal injury rates have low fatal injury rates and tend to be located in the North, have more comprehension workers' compensation benefits, a stronger union presence and have higher wages.

Researchers believe that workers' compensation benefits play a role in determining the ratio of nonfatal injuries to fatal injuries. States with better workers' compensation benefits may have higher nonfatal injury rates because workers report these types of injuries more often to receive benefits. To avoid paying out these benefits, employers may spend more on injury prevention measures like training and equipment.

On the other hand, researchers conjecture that nonfatal injuries go underreported in states with low nonfatal accident rates because less comprehensive workers' compensation benefits provide less of an incentive to workers to report their injuries, and that nonfatal injuries occur more frequently in these states than the data indicates.

Other factors that may contribute to workplace injury rates are wage levels, the labor market, unemployment rates and the cultural habits of compliance with government regulations which vary from state to state.

Employers Have a Responsibility to Provide a Safe Workplace

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), employers have a duty to provide a workplace free of obvious safety hazards and to generally comply with OSHA's safety and health regulations. Employers are responsible for supplying workers with appropriate tools, safety equipment and training. Additionally, employers should report workplace injuries and deaths, which not only helps workers receive the care they need but provides data essential for improving safety procedures.

If employers fail to comply with OSHA safety regulations or otherwise compromise worker safety, they may be held liable for resulting injuries or fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured while on a construction job, please contact an experienced Birmingham personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.

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