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What impact have safety acts had on work-related accident stats?

In 1970, a new act went through to help to protect workers. This was called the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It is known as OSH so as not to be confused with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Has this act had a big impact over the years?

Some studies suggest that it certainly has. In fact, the rate of fatalities that are linked to job-related incidents has fallen dramatically, dropping by about 81 percent when the stats from 1970 are compared to current ones. In fact, these estimates also say that about 492,000 lives -- and perhaps even more than that -- have been saved due to new measures.

However, reports are careful to note that not everything is preventable. Even when regulations are in place, they are not always followed, and this can lead to deadly accidents. These regulations can then be pointed to afterwards, but the reality is that the incident has already happened at that point, and lives may have been lost.

For example, there have still been explosions in places like fertilizer plants and coal mines. These have led to dozens of deaths. The fertilizer plant incident alone -- which involved a chemical industry that was unregulated -- took 15 lives, and an explosion in a West Virginia mine accounted for almost 30 deaths just a few years ago.

What this means is that people in Illinois must know what rights they have if they are injured or if a loved one is killed in such an accident. While the rules have made things safer, there is still the chance of a fatal work-related accident in many different industries.

Source: AFL CIO, "Death on the Job Report" Sep. 17, 2014

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