Report labels Kansas one of the most dangerous states to work in

Most people go to work each day with the belief that accidents or injuries are a relatively small risk. Unfortunately for people in Overland Park, a report released earlier this year suggests Kansas is one of the most dangerous states to work in. Sadly, the state workplace fatality rate indicates that workers are at an above-average risk for sustaining fatal injuries.

A history of high fatality rates

The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations report was based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Hays Daily News, the report found that 88 Kansas workers lost their lives in 2012, representing a state fatality rate of 5.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. This is significantly higher than the national fatality rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.

2012 was not the only recent year in which Kansas had an above-average fatality rate. In 2011, the AFL-CIO found that the state was the 11th-deadliest state to work in, with a fatality rate of 5.9 per 100,000 workers, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. In 2010, the rate was even higher, at 6.5 per 100,000 workers. The decrease in the fatality rate from 2010 to 2012 is encouraging, but overall, the high rate of serious workplace accidents is still alarming.

In last year's report, the AFL-CIO identified the following industries as the riskiest:

  • Agricultural
  • Forestry
  • Hunting
  • Fishing

In both 2011 and 2012, transportation accidents also appear to have contributed significantly to the state's workplace injuries and fatalities. In 2011, these accidents caused half of all work-related fatalities, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. While agricultural jobs also contributed to the number of injuries in the workplace, these types of injuries are specifically exempt from the state's workers' compensation laws.

In 2012, the state Department of Labor reported that the most dangerous job in Kansas, based on injury risk, was working as a messenger or courier, according to the Wichita Eagle. With all their time spent on the road, people in these occupations had an injury rate of 10.2 per 100 people.

Recourse for workplace injuries

An employee who is injured on the job may collect workers' compensation benefits if the injury arose in the course of regular job duties and the worker's pre-existing health did not contribute to it. If a fatal injury occurs under similar circumstances, the employee's surviving dependents may be entitled to a death benefit.

In some cases, the actions of a third party may contribute to on-the-job accidents and injuries. For instance, some of the high number of work-related transportation accidents that occurred in Kansas in 2011 and 2012 may have been due to drivers, vehicle equipment malfunctions or poor road maintenance and signage. In addition to collecting workers' compensation benefits, employees injured in these accidents might have been able to make separate claims against the third party.

Unfortunately, if past statistics are any indicator, this year many people in Kansas may face work-related injuries or even the loss of a loved one. Anyone who has been hurt or lost a family member due to a workplace accident should consider meeting with an attorney for guidance during the claim process.