Report: High Workplace Injuries in Maine Make It Among Nation’s Most Dangerous

Most of us who live in Maine love Maine. But according to a recent study by financial website Money-rates.com, Maine is among the worst states in the country to earn a living. sad4

While other states in the bottom 10 ranked poorly because of low wages, high cost of living, high taxes and other economic disadvantages, Maine’s ranking was primarily because of workplace injuries.

The site, which ranked Maine the third-worst state, just ahead Hawaii and Oregon, indicated it is tied for the highest frequency of workplace illness, injury and death.

Specifically, Maine public officials reported 5.3 workplace injuries, illnesses or deaths per 100 workers.

The analysis also noted the higher-than-average cost of living and the lower-than-average wage, as well as the measly 2.3 percent growth in employment expected between 2012 and 2022. But again, the biggest issue was on-the-job injury.

Our Bangor workers’ compensation attorneys know these incidents can range from construction accidents to toxic exposure to chemicals to car crashes to serious trip-and-fall incidents.

The Bangor Daily News reported there were 19 people in Maine killed in workplace accidents in the state in 2013. That was the same as what was reported the previous year. All of those were men, with victims most likely to be over the age of 35.

The most common cause of workplace deaths: Auto accidents. Crashes were the cause of eight work-related deaths in 2012 and six work-related deaths the following year. Two of those happened in the Bangor area, while another four occurred in the Portland region and one happened in Lewiston.

While this rate of 5.3 illness or injuries per 100 workers is actually down from where we were in both 2011 and 2012, it’s still far higher than the national rate, which is 3.3. In fact, Maine was No. 1 nationally for workplace illness and injury. However, state officials contest the data on two fronts. First is that a number of states with a strong industry and construction base weren’t counted. Those included Idaho, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Secondly, officials say Maine has put in place solid incentives to encourage workers to report workplace injuries and illnesses. An official with Maine’s Bureau of Labor Standards’ Technical Service Division said the state has a well-established outreach program that encourages both workers and employers to report workplace injuries – even relatively minor ones.

Officials said most of these injuries are minor, as indicated by the fact the average number of days off work for injured employees in Maine is five, as compared to the national average of eight. He added other states don’t gather workplace injury data as meticulously as Maine. That means those states aren’t necessarily safer, they just aren’t reporting all applicable injuries.

Workplace incidents giving rise to workers’ compensation benefits range from intentional fatal shootings to sprains and strains caused by lifting and repetitive motion.

Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed new injury and illness reporting requirements that mandate all private companies report major injuries to the state and/or federal government. Examples of “major” illnesses or injury would include the need for in-patient hospitalization, hospitalizations, amputations or eye and hearing loss.

If you are the victim of a Bangor work accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Workplace injuries, low wages and high cost of living plague Maine in financial ranking, July 6, 2015, By Seth Koenig, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Maine Motorists Must be Cautious of Road and Weather Conditions, July 14, 2015, Bangor Work Injury Attorney Blog