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NIOSH: tow truck drivers see high injury, fatality rates

The risk for an on-the-job fatality is nearly 15 times greater for those in the motor vehicle towing industry than for those in any other private industry. This is according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which released a report on the issue after analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Connecticut residents may want to know why the fatality rate is so high.

From 2011 to 2016, a total of 191 tow truck workers were killed. This came to an annual rate of 42.9 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. In all other private industries, the annual rate is 2.9 per 100,000 FTE workers. In addition, the non-fatal injury rate among tow truck drivers came out to be double that of the rate in all other industries: 204.2 per 10,000 compared to an average of 98.2.

The leading cause of death among tow truck drivers was motor vehicles accidents, accounting for 64 percent of fatalities. After that came contact with objects and equipment at 17 percent of deaths. Among non-fatal injuries, contact with objects and equipment was the leading cause, contributing to 34 percent of them.

Tow truck drivers can stay safe by surveying the pickup area, especially if it is near merging lanes or intersections. They should turn on warning lights, wear high-visibility clothing and double-check cables and connections before going.

A work accident victim may be able to file for workers' compensation benefits regardless of who, if anyone, was at fault. These benefits cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages; however, those who file must waive their right to sue their employer in the future for the same incident. Victims who want to find out more about the process might consider a legal assessment. The lawyer may assist with the filing and even with the appeal if one becomes necessary.

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