Fatal North Carolina Workplace Accident Not the First at Transformer Plant

Two workers were killed and a third seriously injured recently at a North Carolina transformer plant in Goldsboro, about two hours east of Greensboro. transformer

According to news reports, one of the workers fell into a transformer, and the two others went in to save him. However, they too became unresponsive. Although authorities have identified the three men involved, indicating the deceased were ages 51 and 33 and the injured was 40, they have not indicated which of the three fell in, or how exactly the two decedents died. The 40-year-old survivor was reportedly being treated at the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital in critical condition days after the accident.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has launched an investigation into the incident – and it apparently is not the first.

Back in 2009, a worker at the plant was electrocuted. However, the company was not issued a citation in that case after OSHA concluded its investigations.

However, a review of state records show there were numerous workplace safety violations in the past 15 years. Those include two serious violations in 2007, another the year before that, two in 2005 and a total of 10 in 2001. For all of those, the company paid a total of $15,000 in penalties.

Of the two men who died, the younger had just become a father and the elder had just become a grandfather.

Transformers are apparatuses used for either increasing or decreasing the voltage of an alternating current. It is not unusual for these lines to carry somewhere between 400,000 to 750,000 volts of electricity. Those that work in transformer plants must be well-trained, adequately supervised and given the appropriate tools and resources to protect them from harm.

When a worker dies as a result of a workplace accident in North Carolina, their surviving relatives are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. These are spelled out within the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, NCGS 97-38. The law provides that if a death occurs as proximate result of a work-related accident or occupational disease (or up to six years after the incident/ diagnoses) or within two years of the final determination of disability, employer is compelled to pay weekly compensation. That amount should be equal to 66 and 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages of that worker at the time of the death. It can’t be more than the amount established annually by the legislature in October and no less than $30 weekly for up to 500 weeks (or about 10 years). It may also allow for up to $10,000 in burial expenses. Payments made to minor children will continue until age 18, even if that means the timeline is longer than 500 weeks. In some cases, where spouses or adult children are disabled, benefits may be extended for life.

Such claims have to be filed within two years of the date of the death, and have to be filed by dependents or next-of-kin.

Recently, OSHA released North Carolina’s workplace fatality statistics for fiscal year 2015, and revealed there were 42 deaths – an increase from the 40 reported in fiscal year 2014 and the 33 in fiscal year 2013. Of those cases:

  • 15 involved struck by incident
  • 4 involved caught in/between incident
  • 13 involved falls from elevation
  • 8 involved shock incidents
  • 2 involved other types of incidents

Of those, 18 occurred in Raleigh, seven in Wilmington, six in Asheville and Winston-Salem and five in Charlotte. The most dangerous industries in North Carolina were:

  • Construction (36 percent of workplace fatalities)
  • Manufacturing (17 percent)
  • Agriculture (17 percent)
  • Services (12 percent)
  • Retail trade (7 percent)
  • Transportation and public utilities (5 percent)
  • Government (5 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2 percent)

If someone you love has been killed in a North Carolina workplace accident, call our compassionate, experienced legal team today to learn more about how we can help you obtain benefits to which you are entitled.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Two fatalities not first worker deaths at Goldsboro plant, Dec. 1, 2015, Staff Report, WRAL.com

More Blog Entries:

Goff v. W. Va. Office of Ins. Comm’r – Worker Compensation for Loss of Eye, Nov. 25, 2015, Greensboro Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Contact Information