IHSI Report: Carolina Work Safety Improves Slightly

The latest annual report from UL’s Integrated Health & Safety Institute (IHSI) has issued a report that ranks the prevalence of health conditions of work safety in each state as compared to the national average.worker5

The results for North Carolina and South Carolina reveal something of a mixed bag.

For example, the North Carolina workplace fatality rate is in the 10- to 20-percent better range. However, the risk of certain health determinants, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke were in the 10- to 20-percent worse category.

In South Carolina, meanwhile, rates for workplace fatality were 10- to 20-percent better. However, the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke were in the more than 20 percent worse range.

These factors cost North Carolina more than $5.1 million in lost productivity and $5 million for South Carolina. According to these figures, North and South Carolina are in the top 10 for having the highest worker injury and fatality rates (ranking 8th and 9th, respectively). The state with the greatest losses, Maryland, lose approximately $5.75 annually.

The report analyzes looks at the economic impact of these conditions on a hypothetical company that employs 500 workers, taking into account lost productivity, employee absence and health care costs.

Researchers say that when companies can take a step back and look at the potential issues that affect their bottom line, they may be able to “manage through an integrated framework to reduce injuries and illnesses in the workplace.”

That could mean your employer might implement an employee health program. However, you probably couldn’t collect workers’ compensation benefits for your diabetes or stroke, as those are generally not work-related. There have been some cases in which heart attacks and high blood pressure have been successfully attributed to work-related stress, and thus deemed compensable.

Those claims are often an uphill battle, but they can be won.

More straightforward claims are those that involve some injury that occurs or illness contracted at work. And this is where companies really should be focusing their efforts, because there is ample evidence to suggest this area is lacking.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, there were 42 work-related fatalities just from October to September last year – including 6 in Asheville, 5 in Charlotte and 6 in Winston-Salem. In January of this year alone, there were 10, including 3 in Charlotte, 2 in Winston-Salem and 1 in Asheville. More than a third of these were the result of struck-by incidents, another 30 percent were attributed to falls and 20 percent were the result of electric shock. If these three issues alone were addressed head-on, we could potentially see a substantial difference in the number of work-related deaths and fatalities.

Also interesting: Between 30 and 40 percent of all work fatalities in North Carolina happen on Monday. Determining why that may be and what measures could be taken to heighten safety oversight on that day could potentially go a long way toward reducing the overall number of work-related accidents and fatalities.

The most frequently-cited violations in workplace inspections, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor, are:

  • Failure to ensure proper fall protection at residential construction sites;
  • Failure to provide eye and face protection;
  • Failure to provide head protection;
  • Failure to property train and certify workers.

If you have been injured on a North Carolina job site, call us today to learn more about how we can help.

Contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

UL State Reports on Health Determinants and Workplace Safety Conditions, Feb. 25, 2016, UL

More Blog Entries:

Snow and Ice Pose Danger for NC Road Workers, Feb. 27, 2016, Winston-Salem Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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