The problem of assaults on medical workers may be at an all-time high -- and the nurses in Minneapolis metro area have had enough.
While any Minnesota worker in any environment faces some risks, there are jobs out there where employees are more prone to work-related injuries or even death.
As this blog has reported before, our state has a relatively good track record for workplace safety, at least in some respects. The good news for residents of the greater Twin Cities area is that the state continues to improve in its effort to prevent workplace accidents.
Workers in the Minnesota area might not realize it, but it is actually fairly likely that, on a given day, they will either get hurt at work themselves or may witness a significant workplace accident. According to an analysis by the National Safety Council, someone in this country gets hurt at work at an average rate of 7 seconds. The Council arrived at this number by dividing the approximately 4.5 million work-related injuries that happen annually.
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.