The good news that came out of the Great Recession for Minnesotans was a lower workplace injury rate. The construction industry, which is responsible for a significant percentage of workplace injuries, had fewer accidents in recent years due to a reduction in the overall workforce. The economy seems to be improving, however, especially in construction and manufacturing. According to The Associated Press, manufacturers added 27,000 jobs nationwide and the construction industry gained 17,000 employees. The two industries together have provided for 113,000 jobs over the last four months.
With the economy back on track and construction again on the rise, workplace injuries have also risen slightly.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 workers died on the job in 2012 in Minnesota, 10 more than in 2011. The state is bucking the trend, as nationwide workplace fatalities dropped over the same period. Fortunately, the fatality rate is still half of what it was in 1998. Labor and Industry Commissioner Ken Peterson told KFGO AM that better technology and a greater attention to safety has been helpful in reducing workplace injuries.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents continue to occur in Minnesota, and technology and job training cannot eliminate all risk of injury. While the rise in worker fatalities was slight, it is still significant, and as more high-risk jobs come about the rise in employee injuries may increase as well.
Injured workers who can no longer perform their job duties may be able to receive lost wages under workers' compensation, an insurance system that compensates a worker who is injured while doing legitimate job duties. Workers' compensation may provide:
• Medical care expenses
• Compensation for loss of income due to the injury
• Benefits to dependents for work related death
• Compensation for loss of body function
• Vocational training so an injured worker can find a new job
An employee must meet several requirements in order to receive workers' compensation. A worker must inform an employer of an injury obtained on the job within 30 days, for example. Whether or not a worker was performing a job duty, whether the injury was preexisting and other details may be a subject of disagreement between the claim filer and the insurer.
In the construction industry, there may be the additional complication of going through the Union Construction Workers' Compensation Program, an agreement both the union and company must have agreed to.
Workers in construction and manufacturing are no doubt pleased by the uptick in jobs. However, these industries often demand hard physical labor that can be impossible to perform when injured. Minnesotans injured at work should contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney to discuss their claim.