With the reportedly high number of workplace fatalities in 2010, our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys agree that a commitment needs to be made to increase the safety of workers on the job.
Considering most full time employees spend a minimum of 40 hours on the job each week, employers have an obligation to make sure the work environment is safe, as well as to ensure that precautionary safety measures are communicated to their employees.
The Charlotte Observer reports that fatalities on-the-job jumped 40% from 2009. There were 48 North Carolina work fatalities in 2010 compared to the all-time low the previous year at 34. Despite the increase, last year’s total is still lower than the 5 year average from 2005-2009 which is 53 deaths per year.
Mecklenburg County recorded the highest death toll at 7. The two leading causes of death in the workplace for 2010 were falls or accidents where workers were struck by something.
North Carolina reported 16 fatalities on North Carolina jobs sites due to victims being struck by a vehicle or object. The second leading industry most responsible for workplace fatalities is construction, or jobs that require workers to be elevated according to WRAL .
There were 15 construction workers killed on site in North Carolina in 2010.
Manufacturing and service industries each reported 6 casualties. Other causes of death in North Carolina work accidents were electrocutions or being crushed by objects.
TheNorth Carolina Division of Labor is seeking solutions.
“Many of the fatalities involved falls or crushed-by accidents and these can be avoided by using fall protection and paying close attention to your surroundings,” said Allen McNeely, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Division. The NC Occupational Safety and Health Division are constantly working with employers and employees to identify trends with regard to hazardous issues that can cause injury or fatality. Last year they issued warnings for bridge construction, forklifts, and tree care after discovering problems in those industries.
The poor economy may once again play a role in these workplace tragedies. Workers have a tendency to stress about paying the bills and may become distracted with problems while at work. On the other hand, employers in this economy may cut corners on safety measures in order to preserve cash flow. And employees are often doing more with less than ever before. And ensuring the safety of employees is ultimately the employer’s responsibility.
If you have been seriously injured at work, or have a workers’ compensation claim in North or South Carolina, contact the Law Offices of Lee & Smith for experienced advice. For a free initial consultation call 1-800-887-1965.