Certain industries carry greater risk than others. However, employers and employees both generally work to ensure that workplaces are as safe as they can be. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to help companies achieve that. One study showed something concerning for the nation as a whole: the number of inspectors needed to ensure safe worksites in each state is inadequate. The good news is that Alaska had one of the better rates in the nation, but there is still room for improvement to prevent workplace accidents.
A little over 1,700 OSHA inspectors operate across the nation, handling inspections that involve almost 150 million employees. Though that first number may sound as though it is enough, the International Labor Organization says that the United States actually needs over 14,700 inspectors. What this means is that there are states in the country where it could take the equivalent of a few hundred years to properly inspect all job sites. Alaska has the best number in the country, but its rate is still 41 years, meaning that OSHA cannot possibly ensure that all workplaces are safe.
In contrast, one of the worst rates in the country belongs to the state of Arkansas, where it would take 323 years to conduct proper safety inspections. The study did show a promising result, that the number of fatalities due to an injury suffered at work has fallen in recent years, sitting at 3.5 per 100,000 workers in 2018. However, certain demographics, like Latino workers, have a higher rate at 3.7. The bottom line is that it will take work on the part of OSHA, employers and employees to keep everyone safe while on the job.
Those who have workplace accidents here in Alaska may not realize it, but they may be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits while they recover from their injuries. Even those who have lost a loved one may be able to collect benefits on that person’s behalf. An attorney who understands how these and other employee benefits work may be the best resource for those with questions.