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Workers in the public sector face higher risk of injury in New York

Erwin, McCane & Daly | Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New York state employees are more likely to suffer an injury during the course of employment than private sector employees, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tragically, there has also been an increase in the number of public workplace deaths in the state.

On average one New York worker per month died on the job. New York public workers also suffer a high rate of injury, with an average of seven injuries per 100 full-time workers per year. The private sector, in contrast, had 1.4 injured workers per 100 full-time employees during that same time. The national average is 5.6 injuries for every 100 public workers.

Three-quarters of public workers injured were local government employees.

Public sector employees often engage in the most high-risk professions. Law enforcement, firefighting, construction and maintenance all carry a risk of injury. In addition, tight state and local budgets and an aging workforce mean that many skilled workers are retiring without experienced replacements at the ready. Inadequate training for young and inexperienced workers can greatly increase the risk of injury.

New York does attempt to protect workers through the Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau, which responds to worker safety complaints and inspects public employer work sites. Still, injury risks cannot be entirely eliminated. Workers who have been injured in the course of their employment do have help available, however.

Workers' Compensation

Workers who are employees of the State of New York are covered by workers compensation, including some volunteer workers, public school teachers, and employees of counties and municipalities engaged in "hazardous" work. New York state law defines hazardous employment covered by workers compensation.

Workers' compensation is an insurance program that provides financial help for workers injured on the job, in order that they can pay medical expenses and recover for lost wages. There are several requirements an injured worker must meet in order to be eligible for workers' comp. In order to have a successful claim, the injured worker must have been injured while on the job and performing work duties at the time of the injury. A claimant must meet all deadlines in order to qualify for workers comp as well.

In New York, a worker should notify his or her employer within 30 days of the injury. The injured worker then must file a claim with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board within two years from the incident that caused the injury.

Most workers injured on the job are understandably concerned primarily with recovery and dealing with day-to-day difficulties associated with being injured or ill. That is why New York public and private employees should contact an experienced New York workers' compensation attorney to help navigate the claims process or to appeal a denied claim.