A worker is injured on the job every seven seconds in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. Although every job carries a level of risk, some occupations are inherently more dangerous than others, and Oklahoma happens to be home to a number of high-risk professions.
In this post, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law examine some of the most dangerous occupations in the state and discuss what to do if you suffer a job-related injury.
Workplace Injuries and Fatalities in Oklahoma
In the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, Oklahoma recorded more than 48,900 work-related injuries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Oklahoma experiences a slightly higher rate of occupational injuries than the national average, due in part to the large number of workers in industries that are considered among the most dangerous in the nation.
In 2017, 91 Oklahoma workers suffered fatal work-related injuries, according to the BLS. Among the industries with the highest rates of workplace fatalities were:
- Mining/oil and gas extraction
- Agriculture and forestry
Following is a closer look at some of the most dangerous occupations in the state.
Oil & Gas Operations
Oklahoma has a high number of workers in oil and gas operations, and a wide variety of injuries occur on drilling rigs. Oil and gas workers face a number of occupational hazards, including the risk of cave-ins, explosions, falls and chemical burns. These employees are also often expected to work long hours exposed to the elements, which can lead to fatigue and other factors that make it difficult for them to safely perform their duties.
In recent years, the BLS has logged an increasing amount of injuries and fatalities in Oklahoma’s construction industry. Construction sites pose numerous hazards, including heavy machinery, work at hazardous heights, unsecured construction equipment and exposed electrical wiring. Falls from ladders or scaffolding, being struck by falling objects and machinery-related accidents are among the most common causes of construction-related injuries and fatalities.
Manufacturing jobs often include working in hazardous conditions and operating large machinery. Manufacturing fatalities are the third-highest among work-related accidents, according to the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Workers in the manufacturing industry are often injured by heavy machinery or harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals.
Trucking and transportation
Truckers, transit drivers and freight handlers face numerous hazards, but one that many people outside of the industry may not consider is musculoskeletal disorders that are often categorized as repetitive-stress injuries. According to an Oklahoma State Department of Health report, musculoskeletal disorders including compressed spinal discs and carpal-tunnel syndrome accounted for nearly 30 percent of all trucking/transit industry injuries that required time away from work.
Agriculture is consistently listed as one of the most hazardous industries in Oklahoma, and farmers face an increased risk for both nonfatal and fatal injuries. In one four-year span, farming-related deaths accounted for about 25% of all occupational deaths in Oklahoma. Leading causes of farm-related injuries and fatalities include heavy machinery, electrocution, environmental hazards and falling objects.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In many cases, injured workers are eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation is an insurance-based program that provides financial assistance to help cover medical expenses and lost wages.
To be eligible for Workers’ Comp benefits, the injury or illness must have occurred while performing your job-related duties or as a result of your job-related duties. Workers’ Compensation does not cover injuries or illnesses caused by alcohol or drug use, self-inflicted injuries, injuries suffered while committing a crime, or injuries or ailments suffered due to a worker’s violation of a company policy.
It’s important to note that Workers’ Comp benefits aren’t just for injuries that are the result of a single incident. Repetitive-stress conditions that are sustained as a result of your job may also be covered.
Third-Party Liability and Personal Injury Cases
In some cases, injured workers may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation and also bring a third-party liability claim against those whose negligence or recklessness caused the injury. Third-party liability situations arise when an individual or party separate from the employer causes the work-related accident.
For example, if a full-time delivery driver is working his route and suffers injuries after being hit by a drunk driver, the delivery driver may be entitled to both Workers’ Compensation benefits and to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver seeking damages. These additional damages may include compensation for things not covered by Workers’ Compensation, including pain and suffering.
It’s also important to note that not all workers and job-related injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation. For example, businesses are not required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance to cover independent contractors, and so-called “casual” workers (those who only work for a company sporadically) and domestic service employees are also generally not covered by Workers’ Compensation.
Employees who suffer a job-related injury but who are not covered by Workers’ Compensation may still be able to pursue damages through a personal injury lawsuit if the injury was caused by another’s negligence or carelessness.
Contact an Oklahoma Injury Attorney
Although you are not required to work with an attorney to seek Workers’ Compensation benefits, you do have the right to retain a lawyer for help with your Workers’ Compensation Claim.
An experienced lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid Workers’ Compensation claim, whether you may also be eligible to file a third-party liability case, or if you would be better served by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. By taking the lead on your claim and guiding you through the process, our lawyers allow you to focus on healing and moving forward with your life.
If you suffered a job-related injury or occupational illness in Oklahoma, please call Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law today at 844-210-7917 or contact us online. We offer free consultations to answer your questions and help you understand your options, and we don’t charge for our services unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Carr & Carr has offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but we’re dedicated to representing injured workers throughout Oklahoma.