In 2020, the Department of Labor marks 50 years since President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This law was intended to ensure “so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019. This translates on average to more than 100 worker deaths per week or about 15 deaths every day. About 20% of these fatalities were in construction.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,814,000 non-fatal work place injuries in 2019. That translates into 2.8 cases per 100 full time equivalent workers.
Ten occupations accounted for 33.2% of all private industry cases. Health care and social assistance had the highest number of injury cases with 575,200 followed by manufacturing with 421,400 cases, and retail trade with 395,700 cases. Transportation and warehousing had 227,900 cases and construction accounted for 200,000 injury cases.
Many workplace accidents only afford an injured worker the legal right to file a claim for worker’s compensation from his/her employer. Worker’s Compensation laws were designed to prevent a lawsuit from being filed for the employer’s or a co-worker’s negligence in exchange for paying a claim in worker’s compensation without proving any fault of the employer or co-worker.
However, not all workplace accidents are governed by worker’s compensation laws. In other words, there are many instances where a worker who is injured on the job still has a right to file a lawsuit for the negligence of another. When the injuries were caused by the negligence of another company that the injured worker DID NOT work for or his employees, the injured worker can file a lawsuit for his injuries. This is generally known as a third-party claim or a third-party tort action, meaning that there was negligence by a third party, not the injured worker’s employer or his co-employees.
Some examples of third-party tort actions include:
- Construction site injuries caused by workers of a separate company;
- Injuries to pedestrians or others not employed by the negligent operator of a forklift;
- Designers and builders of buildings that cause injury to workers of other subcontractors;
- Injuries to truck drivers delivering to a job site caused by the negligence of workers at the site
- Injuries to workers from other trades from improper demolition of buildings by a demolition contractor
- Injuries to workers visiting a job site from the unsafe practices of individuals or companies at the job site.