The latest report on North Carolina workplace injuries and illnesses for those in the private sector indicates historic lows. The North Carolina Department of Labor reports the rate of work injury/illness fell from 2.7 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2014 to 2.6 in 2015. This is below the national rate and also less than half of what it was in 2001 – which was 5.3 per 100 full-time workers.
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry credited management, workers, and companies with being more vigilant about on-the-job safety, particularly those in the most dangerous professions, which include construction, manufacturing, and transportation.
However, those in the industry say it has equally to do with injured workers obtaining good legal representation. Workplace accidents are in fact very costly when you factor in the legal expenses, insurance fees, lost productivity, and third-party liability lawsuits. Smart employers recognize that investing in workplace safety is something that ultimately pays for itself – even if it affects their bottom line in the short term.
This does not mean, however, that employers, safety regulators, or workers can be complacent about the risk of workplace injury, which still affects many thousands of North Carolina employees every year.
The Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Bureaus conducted 2,892 compliance inspections, 1,176 construction inspections, 1,791 safety inspections, and 1,101 health inspections. There were an average of two violations per inspection. There were $5.2 million in penalties assessed. Furthermore, there were 314 accident inspections.
The agency’s complaint desk processed more than 1,800 complaints and more than 700 referrals during the last fiscal year, which was a sizable increase from the previous year, when there were 1,527 complaints and 190 referrals.
With regard to construction, the rate of injury fell from 3.3 worker injuries per 100 full-time workers in 2014 to 2.7 in 2015. That’s well below the national rate, which is 3.8. Yet here again, this does not mean we can afford to be complacent. Take, for example, the disaster at the Wake Technical Community College’s Northern Wake Campus. Workers were building a pedestrian bridge over a 40-foot ravine when the bridge suddenly collapsed. This resulted in one worker fatality and numerous injuries. Compliance officials of the state noted another bridge of similar construction nearby and halted its completion until a full evaluation. Later that same night, the second pedestrian bridge – which was unoccupied due to the state’s order – collapsed in the same way. Ultimately, it was revealed that the cause was engineering design deficiencies. The state’s OSH division concluded the project’s structural engineer should have recognized the flaws.
In another recent case, three workers were killed and four injured on a bridge construction project in Raleigh, which the state determined was due to insufficient fall protection.
Nationally, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that of the 4,386 private industry fatalities, more than 20 percent involved construction workers. The causes of the majority of those incidents were:
- Falls – 40 percent
- Electrocutions – 8 percent
- Struck by Object – 8 percent
- Caught in/between – 4 percent
These incidents frequently result in strains and sprains, cuts, contusions, and bone fractures. Our Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys are prepared to help you with your claim.
Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Tar Heel state’s workplace injury and illness rate drops to a historic low, Nov. 1, 2016, Bladen Journal
More Blog Entries:
Workers’ Compensation Claim for Injury Leaving Work Weighed by South Carolina Supreme Court, Nov. 4, 2016, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog