Many construction sites and other workplaces include trenches, that is, narrow tunnels in the earth that workers dig out with heavy equipment. Trenches are commonplace at many different types of Minnesota worksites. For instance, workers use them to lay or repair sewage, water, gas and other underground utility lines. A trench may also be needed when workers are building or repairing a road or doing other work that requires access underground.
A man from the northern part of our state, who gave of his time to coach lacrosse and referee soccer games for a nearby school system, has suffered critical injuries because of a work-related accident. As of the latest report, the man was able to breathe with the help of a machine, but was comatose, suggesting he may have suffered a severe brain injury.
In Minnesota and across the United States, June is National Safety Month. According to the National Safety Council, National Safety Month is observed every year to increase awareness and decrease incidence of the main causes of injuries or fatalities at work - as well as at home and on the road. As part of National Safety Month, the NSC acknowledges businesses that have demonstrated exemplary safety records by reducing or eliminating workplace accidents and injuries.
Each year, many workers are killed while on the job, and more are in the construction industry than in any other sector of the United States economy. According to the AFL-CIO, 92 workers lost their lives in workplace accidents in Minnesota in 2016, the latest year for which figures were available. Nationwide, more than 5,100 died on the job. Of these, 991 were killed in workplace accidents while working construction jobs.
After several years with a workplace fatality rate consistently well-below the national average, Minnesota's rate of work place fatalities has risen since 2014 from 2.3 deaths per 100,000 workers to 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. This puts the North Star State on par with the national workplace fatality rate of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. Minnesota's steep rise is not reflected on a national level, where the on-the-job death rate has remained between 3.5 and 4 fatalities per 100,000 workers since 2007.
In 2016, the latest year for which data is available, nearly 5,200 workers died on the job in the United States. This represents a sharp increase over 2015, when 4,836 people died as a result of injuries sustained in workplace accidents. For 2016, 3.6 per 100,000 workers died from injuries sustained while on the job in the United States. In Minnesota, over the same period, 92 workers lost their lives in workplace accidents - or 3.4 per 100,000 workers.
There were close to 100 workplace fatalities in Minnesota in 2016, the most recent year with complete statistics. In reviewing the data, fatalities and serious injuries occur across industries and incident types. While the modern workplace is much safer than a century ago, there will always be obstacles and errors that lead to issues.
Humans -- and all animals -- have internal clocks that regular behavior. Known as circadian rhythm, it's an often-studied part of our biology that affects how the human body responds to conditions. Behavior is different based on conditions like light and temperature.
It is common sense that, in Minnesota as elsewhere, some types of jobs are more dangerous than others. Whether due to an unsafe working environment, faulty equipment, or simply unfortunate circumstances, workplace accidents usually happen suddenly and without warning: A person is just doing their job one minute and in the next, their life has changed forever.