Report: North Carolina Workplace Deaths Down in 2015

Some good news coming from the North Carolina Labor Department: Workplace deaths were down in 2015, according to official data.constructionworker

Still, it’s not necessarily enough to rejoice in a dramatic trend.

The Department of Labor reports there were 41 people killed in workplace accidents throughout the state last year, versus 45 killed in 2014.

First, let’s keep in mind: These are preliminary figures. The 2015 figure could increase slightly as pending investigations are completed or if a worker injured in an accident last year dies of those injuries this year. 

Secondly, according to The Raleigh News & Observer, the figures from the state department don’t include:

  • Those killed on-the-job in traffic accidents;
  • Those killed on-the-job in homicides;
  • Self-employed workers;
  • Those killed on small farms;
  • Those who died at federal facilities not regulated by the Department of Labor.

That’s a lot. We don’t know how many it was in 2015, but in 2014, that meant 83 worker deaths were not counted in formal state figures. In fact, it was nearly double the number that were officially counted.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for tracking all worker deaths, will have the final figures closer to the end of this year. A representative with the state labor department said the reason it doesn’t include all known deaths in its counts is that it takes nine months or more to mine federal data. So by the time the agency finally compiles a report, the information is somewhat out-of-date. By looking at the timelier – if less accurate – data from the state, officials can analyze the available information for patterns or trends that might help to improve worker safety through education and training.

Of the state reported cases last year, Wake County had the most work-related deaths, with seven throughout the year. Three of those occurred when a scaffold collapsed in downtown Raleigh, killing three workers.

In looking at all North Carolina worker deaths last year, all of them were:

  • Men
  • Laborers
  • Between the ages of 19 and 65

The most dangerous occupation in the state was construction, as it accounted for a dozen deaths in all of last year. That was slightly down from 19 the year before – which was the highest it had been in recent years. That prompted the Builders Mutual Insurance Company to put out a series of public service announcements informing workers of the top job safety hazards. All of those construction workers killed last year (that we know of so far) worked in commercial contracting.

Mecklenberg County, where Charlotte is located, had three worker deaths.

In general, worker safety has improved in recent years nationally, mostly because of workers’ compensation insurance requirements that give employers incentive to improve workplace safety.

In 1999, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 5.7 worker injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers. As of 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available,, there were 2.7 incidents of worker illness and injury per 100 workers.

Surviving family members and dependents of workers killed on-the-job in North Carolina are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits.

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

Additional Resources:

NC Labor Department: Worker Deaths on Decline in 2015, Jan. 26, 2016, By Richard Stradling, Raleigh News & Observer

More Blog Entries:

NC Governor Signs Employee Misclassification Order, Jan. 22, 2016, Winston-Salem Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog

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