Fatal Work Injuries in Carolinas – True Toll Hard to Determine

Each and every day, more than 100 workers in the U.S. are killed on the job from injury or work-related illness, according to a recent study from the AFL-CIO.
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But the true number might actually be much higher. According to the Huffington Post, the state of North Carolina only releases an annual report with the number of people who were killed on the job — in accidents in which the state has the authority to investigate. That means that there are some that never make it to the books, and thus make our workplaces seem safer than may be the reality.

Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers understand that there were close to 5,000 people killed on the job in 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were another 50,000 people who were killed as a result of work-related injury, illnesses or disease. When you combine all causes of death, you get about 150 on-the-job fatalities each day in the U.S. When you think about it, American workers are more than 270 times more likely to die on the job that from a terrorist attack.

With recent high-profile industrial disasters, workplace safety has become a top focus. The fertilizer plant explosion in Texas took the lives of close to 20 and injured hundreds, and the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh last month claimed the lives of more than 700 people.

Unfortunately, according to AFL-CIO, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is understaffed, and that may be one good reason into why our country’s workplaces are as safe as they should be. There isn’t a tough enough monitoring system looking over them. If you calculate in all workers with OSHA, officials could check on the nation’s 8 million workplaces only once every 115 years.

We’re not done spilling the bad news. According to recent statistics, there are close to 4 million Americans who suffer a work-related injury or disease each year. AFL-CIO thinks that number is closer to 11 million because not all of these incidents are reported.

The way these incidents are reported in the state of North Carolina is through the Occupational Fatality Investigation Review (OFIR). The OFIR Report is compiled based on the event date by federal fiscal year (October 1 – September 30). The report lists only those workplace fatalities that have been or are being investigated by OSH. Workplace fatalities that have not been investigated by OSH (such as some heart attacks and vehicular fatalities) are not included in this report, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor.

The N.C. Department of Labor is charged with promoting the “health, safety and general well-being” of more than 4 million workers in the state.

But how can we help to ensure the safety of our N.C. family if we’re not even sure how many are injured or killed on the job? It’s time to bring these incidents to light and to work on improving the safety of our workforce.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a work accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Fertilizer Plants Could Claim Arcane Exemption to Inspections, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 4, 2013

Improved Surveillance Urged to Combat High Rates of Workplace Injuries in Agriculture, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 1, 2013

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