Fatal Work-Related Accidents in North Carolina Up from Previous Year

The number of work-related accidents in North Carolina saw an increase from 2010 to 2011, reports the North Carolina Department of Labor. In 2011, there were 53 work-related fatalities in the state. There were only 50 recorded the previous year. The yearly average of work-related fatalities in North Carolina over the last five years was 53.2.
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According to the most recently released statistics, there was one work-related fatality each in Watauga, Rockingham, Guilford and Ashe counties. There were three work-related fatalities during the year in Forsyth and seven workplace fatalities in 2011 in Northwest North Carolina and Triad. Wake County witnessed the most workplace fatalities – six – and was closely followed by Mecklenburg with five, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Our Asheville workers compensation attorneys understand that the top two causes for on-the-job fatalities were falls and being struck by an object, with 17 and 18 fatalities in 2011. These recent statistics also indicated that there were four work-related fatalities caused by heat exposure. This was the first year that a heat-related work fatality was recorded since 2006.

“The department will continue its heat stress initiative that we kicked off last year,” said Cherie Berry, the state’s labor commissioner. “We are urging employers and employees to recommit themselves to safety and health.”

In 2011, the construction industry ranked second place for having the second-highest number of work-related fatalities with a second year of 16 fatalities. Following closely behind the construction industry were the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors with 10 fatalities total and public utilities and transportation with six.

According to the more detailed reports of the 2011 incidents, Caucasians accounted for 30 of the 53 work-related fatalities. Hispanic workers accounted for 16 of the fatalities, African Americans accounted for six and Native American employees accounted for one. Men were overwhelmingly the victims in these cases, accounting for 52 of the 53 work-related fatalities during the year.

Now the good news: The state’s Department of Labor also revealed that the injury rate has hit an overall low for the private industry. In 2009 and in 2010, the fatality rate per 100 workers was 3.1
“Any workplace death is a tragedy and of great concern because it affects so many people — the family, co-workers, the community and our department,” said Berry.

We would like to remind employees that employers have a legal obligation to provide safe work areas for all employees. The proper training, safety gear and safety requirements are to be met and executed under federal law. Employers are to minimize all hazards and risks for injury, illness and death on the job for employees throughout the country. If you feel that you’re at risk for a work-related accident, talk with your employer about ways to rectify the situation. Always voice your concerns when safety is at stake.

“The real tragedy is that all of these fatalities could have been avoided by having proper safety and health training, which we provide free of charge,” Berry said.

If you or someone in your family has experienced an injury on the job in Asheville, Rock Hill or elsewhere throughout the Carolinas, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential appointment. Call 1-800-887-1965 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your claim today.

Additional Resources:

Work-related deaths increased by 3 in N.C. in 2011, by Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal

More Blog Entries:

Police: Employee Kills North Carolina Workers before Turning Gun on Self, North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 16, 2012

Urging Employers to Enforce Prevention Programs to Reduce Risks of Work-Related Accidents in Rock Hill and Elsewhere
, North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 14, 2012

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