Georgia workers who are 55 or older should know that many in their age range are dying from occupational injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually came out with some startling data earlier in 2020. It said that between 1992 and 2017, there was a 56% increase in the number of older workers who die on the job. This was in spite of a 17% decline in fatal occupational injuries overall.
During that period, 38,200 workers 55 and older died on the job, composing 26% of all fatally injured workers. The overall fatality rate came to 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, but the fatality rate of workers 55 to 64 came to 4.6 per 100,000. Even worse was the fatality rate for those 65 and older: 10.3 per 100,000 FTE workers.
Of the 38,200 who died, 3,772 were drivers of heavy-duty trucks or tractor trailers while 3,217 were farmers. Truck driving and farming, then, were the deadliest occupations for older workers. Between 2003 and 2017, one in seven older workers who died were farmers, 98% of them self-employed and 61% dying in the Midwest. Between 1992 and 2017, the number of older people in the labor force more than doubled. This may be due to the aging population. The BLS did not analyze the reasons for this jump in fatalities.
Workers’ compensation law does allow for the families or other eligible dependents of a worker killed on the job to receive what are called death benefits. These benefits can provide wage replacement, cover the cost of any pre-death medical treatments, and cover funeral and burial expenses. They are not guaranteed, though, so it is wise for those who intend to file a claim to have a lawyer by their side.