NC workplace fatalities spike in 2010

Posted January 14, 2011

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— Forty-eight people died on the job in North Carolina last year, compared with 34 in 2009, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Labor.

“Any workplace death is a tragedy and of great concern because it affects so many people – the family, co-workers, the community and our department,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said in a statement. “We’ll redouble our efforts and work even harder to prevent these accidents from happening, and we’ll call on employers and employees across the state to recommit themselves to workplace safety and health in 2011.”

The leading cause of the work-related fatalities in 2010 was workers being struck by a vehicle or object, with 16 fatalities, officials said. Fifteen workers died in falls, nine were crushed by objects and four were electrocuted. Four workers died in other fatal events.

“Many of the fatalities involved falls or crushed-by accidents, and these can be avoided by using fall protection and paying close attention to your surroundings,” Allen McNeely, director of the state Occupational Safety and Health Division, said in a statement.

The division issued hazard alerts last year regarding bridge construction, tree care and forklifts after identifying problems in those areas.

Fifteen of the dead workers were in the construction industry, and six each were in manufacturing and service industries.

Officials said there has been speculation that workers worry about their livelihoods in the weak economy, and this distraction may be a factor in fatal accidents.

The state’s injury and illness rate among workers is at an all-time low for private industry, officials said. The rate has steadily declined from 5.3 per 100 full-time workers in 2000 to 3.1 in 2009.

“Although injuries and illnesses are headed in the right direction, the ultimate injury – a fatal accident – is not," Berry said.

The 48 fatal work accidents in 2010 is below the state's five-year average of 53.2 workplace fatalities, officials said.

Mecklenburg County experienced the most fatalities with seven. Nash and Pitt counties were among eight counties with two fatalities. Sixty-six counties had no on-the-job fatalities last year.


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  • gregorysmithgreg Jan 17, 2011

    In 2008 and 2009, foreign manufacturers and attorneys pressured our NC Legislators to exclude "Industrial machinery" from safety inspections. Then governor Easley signed the bill into law, also signed by the then president of the NC Senate, Bev Perdue.
    Electrical and safety experts tried to warn everyone that this was folly, but they didn't listen, now people are dying as a result. Politics + Safety regulations = death.

  • Made In USA Jan 14, 2011

    Most businesses are suffering as we drift longer and longer in this recession, especially those that cater to new housing needs. With that said, maintenance on equipment is likely being neglected. On top of that, many workers are doing their work with a skeleton crew. Some are likely doing tasks that they have never been trained for, or have very little experience doing. From poorly maintained forklifts with inexperienced operators to heavy equipment operators with the same little amount of experience, this spike can partly be blamed on companies trying to make it through this terrible economic atmosphere.

  • theinstallman Jan 14, 2011

    in this state where workers have no protection from employers whims,
    cheap labor not understanding english and a goverment that uses the industrial comission as a playground for lawyers no one is safe

  • spentrounds-full auto Jan 14, 2011

    Time for a change of leadership at NC Dept of Labor! Bury the Berry!

  • peppercorns Jan 14, 2011

    Workers are force to take risks they might otherwise refuse because there are 30 people in line for their job. If you say "no" this right to work and right to fire you for no good reason , comes into play and they will get the next guy to do it. Workers in North Carolina have ZERO security. Thanks Bev.

  • FuckYouWRAL Jan 14, 2011

    "and we’ll call on employers and employees across the state to recommit themselves to workplace safety and health in 2011.”

    Yeah, whatever. This is a state that allows any employer to work any employee (except kids of course) to work any number of hours for any number of days in a row with no guaranteed breaks during their shift...but I'm sure Comrade Berry wouldn't consider any of that to possibly be the cause of workplace accidents or fatalities.

  • obs Jan 14, 2011

    "The rate has steadily declined from 5.3 per 100 full-time workers.." Fact checker fail.

  • wmconway Jan 14, 2011

    I've seen 17 workplace accidents and they can all be attributed to either ambitious deadlines or overeager supervisors.

  • NCStatePack Jan 14, 2011

    Yes, really.

  • u stand corrected Jan 14, 2011