Many jobs in the U.S. carry hazards. Most of us realize that loggers, farmers, and construction workers take on some of the biggest risks that exist while on-the-job, often due to the presence of heavy, dangerous equipment. But one age demographic across all kinds of jobs is growing quickly when it comes to workplace fatalities: those over 65.
Some of us are working into our late 60s, our 70s, and even our 80s due to job or financial losses from the 2008 financial crash, a number of uncertainties concerning the future and what it may hold, and longer life expectancies. Having older workers on the job means more deaths, for a number of reasons, among those who would normally be considered of retirement age.
In general, workplace fatalities have mostly held steady for six years, but the increase that began in 2014 consists almost entirely of workers over 65.
Just Being Older Can Get You Killed
Did you know that the 20th most dangerous occupation in the U.S. is electrician? And yet the death rate for electricians is roughly the same as that for all workers over 65 during 2015: 9.4 out of every 100,000 workers over 65 died while at work. This, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS), which updated their Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in December, 2016. According to Peg Seminario, the safety and health director at the union federation AFL-CIO, “The things that wouldn’t kill a younger person, like a fall or slip, can kill an older person.”
That’s because older workers take longer to recover and are more vulnerable to serious injuries. The most frequent causes of death on the job for those over 55 — falls and transportation accidents — are most perilous for the older age groups. Falls are especially hazardous as we grow older. Consider the risk statistics for workers of various ages in 2014:
- Those aged 20 to 24 accounted for 8.2 percent of fatal falls.
- Those aged 45 to 54 accounted for 16.8 percent of fatal falls.
- Those aged 55 to 64 accounted for 20.7 percent of fatal falls.
- Those aged 65 and over accounted for 27.3 percent of fatal falls.
In the year 2010, over-55 workers comprised 19 percent of the work force. By 2024, the BLS predicts, this figure will increase to about one-fourth of all workers, or 24.8 percent. Seminario commented, “The concern is that people are working longer and longer into their lives, raising risks as the workforce ages.”
Additional Work Fatality Statistics
Some more notable numbers from the 2015 findings that might give you pause:
- In 2015’s workplaces, there were 4,836 fatalities from injuries. That figure is up a small amount from 2014, but still below the numbers from earlier decades.
- Loggers, aircraft pilots, and fishers had the highest death rates per 100,000 workers in 2015, in line with previous years. The death rate for loggers was 132 out of 100,000, more than 38 times that of the national average: 3.4 out of 100,000 workers.
- Occupations with the most workers, as you might expect, had the most fatalities. For truck driving, on-the-job deaths were 885 in 2015; for farming, it was 252 deaths.
- Death rates varied a great deal, depending on age and gender. Men were over five times more likely to die in the workplace than women.
- Racial differences mattered as well. Latino fatalities rose during 2015 by 12 percent to 903 deaths, or 4 per 100,000 workers. These figures are the highest for all racial groups tracked for the study. Part of the reason is the high number of Latinos in the highly-hazardous trades such as agriculture and construction.
- Homicides in the workplace during 2015 claimed 417 lives.
Have Concerns? Talk With Us to Find Out More.
There is no substitute for proper legal help when making a workplace accident claim. If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, contact the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. We have served injured South Carolinians since 1959, so we understand how the workers’ compensation laws work and know how to pursue third-party negligence cases aggressively. We can help you collect the money you’re entitled to, so you can concentrate on getting better and going back to work.
If you have questions about your health problems or your workplace rights, call the Louthian Law Firm at 1-803-454-1200, or use our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation. We believe you deserve more than a chance — you deserve a voice. You deserve the truth. You deserve justice.