A recent report from the Indiana Department of Labor provided some good news for the state: its rate of workplace accidents fell by seven percent in 2012, the first time the accident rate has fallen since 2009. The bad news is that Indiana continues to lag behind other states in workplace safety.
According to the state's Department of Labor, Indiana's nonfatal occupational injury and illness rate dropped to its lowest level on record since 1992, when the government first began surveying the rate of injuries and illness. This amounted to four out of every 100 workers sustaining a workplace injury or illness in 2012. Likewise, agricultural injuries and illnesses dropped by 24.2% last year compared to 2011, health care-related injuries and illnesses fell by 15.9%, and transportation-related injuries and illnesses dipped by 2.2%.
One reason is because the Indiana Department of Labor has been steadily focused on improving safety in the above areas. That is important, especially because the healthcare industry has grown to become the second-largest employer in Indiana, agriculture injuries account for the highest percentage of injuries, and transportation has the highest rate of deadly accidents.
While most industries saw an injury decline, manufacturing saw an unfortunate increase. The manufacturing industry employs the greatest percentage of workers in the state, especially in northern Indiana, which has giant steel mills and oil refinery. Manufacturing industry illnesses and injuries rose two percent last year, to 5.3 per every 100 workers, as opposed to 5.2 the previous year. However, steelmaking had fewer injuries and accidents than the manufacturing industry as a whole, consisting of 4.5 per every 100 workers whenever the steel was shipped out of the mills, and just 1.9% of all injuries or illnesses occurring within the steel mill itself, amounting to less than the state's average for all workplaces.
Even though Indiana's workplace injuries and illnesses have decreased, they still lag behind the national average, which is 3.4 per 100 workers. Therefore, the Department of Labor acknowledges that it needs to continue to address conditions that lead to workplace injuries and hopefully correct them.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see that Indiana's workplace injuries are headed in the right direction, because workplace injuries not only harm the worker and his or her family, but also the workplace, which then loses valuable help. Typically when a worker gets injured, he or she accepts workers' compensation payments, unless the worker is not an employee, but an independent contractor. That is because most employers are required by law to carry workers' compensation insurance. However, the employer's workers' compensation does not cover everyone. For instance, it does not usually cover an independent contractor, just an employee. Employees who receive workers' compensation payments by default waive their right to file a lawsuit against their employer, even if it turns out the accident was due to employer neglect. However, that does not bar those not covered by workers' compensation, or those who want to sue a third party involved in the accident. Contact an Indiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs' law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.