Unfortunately, those employed by state and federal governments face higher risks of illness and injury than those in the private sector. New data collected from the U.S. Labor Department helps decode which professions are most at risk and why. Work injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm summarize this information so employees can be more aware of the dangers they face.
First, the statistics: in all areas of local government, data shows that more than six out of every 100 full-time employees suffered nonfatal job-related injuries or illnesses in 2012. State governments estimated nearly 4.5 out of every 100 workers suffered similar injuries. This can be compared to the private sector, where there are about 3.4 reports of nonfatal injury or illness per 100 employees.
The majority of injuries reported were for vehicle accidents and falls or slips. Among the most dangerous workplace environments included the more obvious police and fire departments and the less-obvious elementary and secondary education. Interestingly, those working in public schools were at a greater risk of being injured (5.2 injuries per 100 workers) than those working in private schools (2.8 per 100). Likewise, public transit employees recorded much higher rates of injury (7.1 per 100) than private-sector transit workers (5.1).
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Other occupations with significantly high illness and injury rates were in nursing and residential care facilities, public order and safety activities, and heavy/civil engineering construction. Data also included the causes of workplaces injuries that required time away from work. The top five injuries in 2011 were: violence and other injuries by people or animals, fires or explosions, transportation incidents, falls, slips or trips, and exposure to harmful environments or substances.
Injury and Illness Litigation
There are two lawsuits currently pending in Missouri that clearly demonstrate the perils of dangerous work environments. The first case concerns an electrician, employed by the Tippah Electric Power Association, who lost both his hands in an accident. While inside a bucket truck in 2010, the man’s hands came into contact with power lines causing electrocution and, eventually, a double amputation.
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The second case recently concluded with a verdict against the company. The plaintiff in this case, 56-year-old Philip Berger, was diagnosed with lung inflammation after he was forced to inhale contaminants as part of his job at Copeland Scroll Compressors. A ventilator failed while Berger was cooling cutting tools, causing the coolant chemicals to fill his working area. It turned out that the chemicals were also ridden with mold and bacteria, which contaminated his lungs and caused hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
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This dangerous lung condition is caused by frequent exposure to large amounts of toxins. In serious cases,hypersensitivity pneumonitis can cause permanent lung damage and chronic inflammation, as white blood cells build up in the walls of the air sacs and small airways.
Berger ultimately sued his employer for knowingly exposing him to a toxic fluid and failing to warn him or provide adequate safety training. He went so far as to say that Copeland Scroll Compressors used him as a blue-collar “guinea pig.” Ultimately, the jury agreed, awarding Berger $28 million in damages.
Our team of toxic substance lawyers has seen many cases similar to this, where employees are never trained on how to best avoid and protect themselves from exposure in the workplace. We believe that these types of cases are critically important in protecting citizens from the negligence and profiting of large corporations. If you or a loved one was seriously sickened or injured on-the-job, contact our firm immediately for a free legal evaluation.