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N.C. workplace deaths dropped 40 percent in 2009

Posted January 26, 2010

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— Accidental workplace fatalities dropped by 40 percent last year, from 57 to 34, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Labor.

“The good news is fewer people died on the job in 2009 than at any other time in our state’s history,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said in a statement. “However, the only acceptable number is zero.”

Manufacturing-related fatalities dropped from nine to eight, while deaths at construction sites went from 17 to 14.

“Our resounding message to employers and employees during this economic downturn has been not to cut corners with safety programs,” Berry said. “They are listening and deserve credit for helping make North Carolina’s workplaces safer.”

Over the last four years, the fatality rate for those in construction jobs has dropped from 9.0 to 6.98 per 100,000 workers.

“We know that construction work was down last year,” Allen McNeely, director of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Division, said in a statement. “To get a true gauge of how employers are doing, we look at the rate (at which) fatalities are occurring, which takes into consideration the fluctuations in the work force.”

Fatalities in the service industry dropped from eight to six, while agriculture, forestry and fishing fatalities dropped from seven to two.

Wake County had the most workplace fatalities with six, followed by Hyde County with four. Mecklenburg, Robeson and Rockingham counties each had two on-the-job deaths. Eighteen counties had one fatality each, and the remaining 77 had no workplace fatalities last year.

Four of the Wake County deaths were the result of a June explosion at the ConAgra Foods Inc. plant in Garner, while all four Hyde County deaths came in an explosion of a truckload of fireworks on July 4.

Despite those two incidents, falls were the leading cause of the work-related deaths last year, officials said. Falls accounted for nine fatalities, while eight people died in explosions. Five workers were crushed by objects, and five were struck by objects. Three workers were electrocuted, and four died in other events.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show private industry has a record-low injury and illness rate in North Carolina, at 3.4 injured workers for every 100 full-time employees in 2008. North Carolina was one of 14 states with an injury and illness rate lower than the national average of 3.9 in 2008.

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  • Unaffiliated Patriot Jan 26, 2010

    The familiar sermon from a typical liberal these days is: Don't say no...don't say anything negative about those in power right now. Well...those of us who see the light are not going to stick our heads in the sand right along with you, pretend we are not lead by incompetents and pretend the King and Queen of Disaster are wearing clothes. The only solution is... stop the bleeding as best we can now and eliminate those who cause such problems..in 2010 and 2012. That would begin with Obama and Perdue...and continue through our liberal Congressmen.

    From UNC70

    "BTW Glad to see you anti-Dem, anti-government, anti-everything types are consistent with this, although you haven't mentioned Bev or Obama yet."

  • TheAdmiral Jan 26, 2010

    Ummmm.. Yeah. If you lay of 40% of your workforce, then it might be that the number of deaths go down.

  • Adelinthe Jan 26, 2010

    I'm sure the increase in the numbers of unemployed had a little something to do with that, just how much would be difficult to determine because odds percentages would have to come into account.

    Still, this is good news.

    Praying it has something to do with more employers caring about their employees.

    God bless.

    RB

  • Weaker Pelosi Jan 26, 2010

    Brind: If that is the case, a layoff could have been a blessing in disguise.

  • jurydoc Jan 26, 2010

    Do you people even READ the article?? What a novel idea! IF you had, you would have read the following, "We know that construction work was down last year,” Allen McNeely, director of the department's Occupational Safety and Health Division, said in a statement. β€œTo get a true gauge of how employers are doing, we look at the rate (at which) fatalities are occurring, which takes into consideration the fluctuations in the work force.”

  • Barrackawack Jan 26, 2010

    THIS JUST IN : Twelve people trampled to death at the Wake County Unemployment Office !

  • unc70 Jan 26, 2010

    These were death "rates" that were down, per 100,000 workers, not just total number of deaths.

    It is true that the decrease in construction jobs probably contributed to the decline.

    BTW Glad to see you anti-Dem, anti-government, anti-everything types are consistent with this, although you haven't mentioned Bev or Obama yet. You do realize that the NC Dept of Labor is headed by Repub. Cherie Berry. Not that it would make much difference in these stats, whether she were Repub or Dem.

  • whatusay Jan 26, 2010

    Has the federal government ever had a lay-off? Doesn't matter how bad it gets they continue to hire.

  • NCStatePack Jan 26, 2010

    "Great way to put negative spin on everything and anything. Good work right-wing haters. You've reached another low." -cantstandgoloanymore

    Quiet you. Sure it's positive that injuries are down, but it's also dumb to point it out as some great acheivement when job loss is directly linked to injuries in the workplace.

  • Boot-the-DC-Tyrant Jan 26, 2010

    This is all because the jobs are disappearing!! Even mine disappeared in September!!

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