Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking fatal workplace accidents, the year with the highest number of fatalities in Illinois was 1996. That year, 262 people lost their lives. 2012 was the lowest year, with 146 fatalities.

The preliminary numbers from 2014 show a decline in workplace fatalities, with 13 fewer deaths than last year. There were 163 deaths in Illinois last year that occurred while someone was working. This is opposite of the nationwide numbers. The preliminary numbers for last year across the country were 4,679 fatalities, while 2013 saw 4,585. The final numbers for 2014 are due to be released next spring.

Transportation accidents accounted for the highest percentage of workplace fatalities in Illinois last year — 36 percent, or 58 people out of 163. The next highest category, violence or other injuries by animals or persons, had 31 deaths, as did contact with equipment and objects. Falls, slips and trips accounted for 30 fatal workplace accidents. In total, the three categories above accounted for 92 percent of all fatalities in the state.

Across the nation, transportation accidents were also the most common cause of deaths in workplace accidents last year. Forty percent of the nationwide work fatalities were reported. Seventeen percent of workplace fatalities were attributable to falls, slips or trips.

Workplace safety is crucial, no matter which industry you are employed. It’s an employer’s responsibility to his or her employees to maintain a safe working environment. While it is a positive step that Illinois saw a decrease in the overall number of worker fatalities, that number needs to go much lower.

If you have lost a family member in a workplace fatality, you may be entitled to death benefits. If such a claim is denied, an attorney can provide information on how to appeal that decision.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Fatal Work Injuries in Illinois — 2014,” accessed Dec. 10, 2015