The most basic right as a worker in Pennsylvania is a safe work environment. Laborers in steel mills and office workers in banks have the same expectation. Their employer has an obligation to protect them.

Unfortunately, workplace safety is a problem in Pennsylvania. The number of worker fatalities has remained steady in recent years.

The numbers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 864 workplace fatalities in Pennsylvania over a five-year period. The totals were:

  • 2018: 177
  • 2017: 172
  • 2016: 163
  • 2015: 173
  • 2014: 179

The bureau also broke down the leading causes of work-related fatalities. The five-year totals include:

  • 317: Transportation accidents
  • 164: Contact with objects and equipment
  • 139: Falls, slips and trips
  • 110: Violence and other injuries by persons or animals
  • 106: Exposure to harmful substances of environments
  • 28: Fires and explosions

The options

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides $3,000 in funeral benefits. Families also receive weekly financial relief when loved ones die on the job. Eligible relatives include spouses, children and dependent relatives, such as parents and siblings. Spouses receive 51% of the deceased worker’s weekly salary. The percentage increases if dependent children live with the spouse. When spouses remarry, they can receive a lump sum equal to 104 weeks of compensation.

Children can receive compensation until age 18. If they are full-time students in an accredited college, university or trade school, the age is 23. Children with disabilities continue to receive benefits for the length of the disability.

The future

Workers’ compensation cases can be complex. The difficulty may increase when people lose a loved one in a work-related accident. An employer and insurer may fight the worker or family members every step of the way. An innocent mistake can undermine a case. It is important for workers injured at work to take every step to secure the future for them and their families.