More older workers are dying on the job, especially in farming

Pennsylvania workers who are 55 or older are in an age group that’s more at risk for fatal occupational injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed the fatality rate among U.S. workers from 1992 to 2017 and found that while it declined 17% overall, the rate for older workers rose 56%.

In all, there were 38,200 fatalities among workers 55 and older during that 26-year span. They made up 26% of all the workplace fatalities. Overall, the fatality rate was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. For those in the 55 to 64 age group, it was 4.6 per 100,000 FTE workers, and for individuals 65 and older, it was a disheartening 10.3 per 100,000 FTE workers.

The reason for this trend is twofold. The population is aging, and the number of older people in the labor force has more than doubled in the period researched by the BLS.

As for the most dangerous industries for older people, they were heavy-duty truck driving and farming. Of the 38,200 deaths, 3,772 and 3,217 occurred in these industries, respectively. Of the older farmers who died on the job between 2003 and 2017, it is interesting to note that 98% were self-employed, 98% were white, 96% were men and 61% died in the Midwest.

In cases where a worker, not self-employed, dies on the job, the family may be able to seek death benefits through the workers’ compensation program. Death benefits can cover burial expenses and provide ongoing payments based on the decedent’s weekly wage, among other things. They are not guaranteed, though, as the employer might be able to deny payment. Families going through the process may want a lawyer to assist with their case, then. The lawyer could also explain when families may strive for a compromise and release agreement.