NC workplace deaths decline in 2013
Posted January 16, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Workplace fatalities in North Carolina dropped 39 percent in 2013, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.
Twenty-three people died on the job statewide last year, down from 38 in 2012, officials said. The number of workplace fatalities in 2011 was 53.
“The only acceptable number is zero,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said in a statement. “We are encouraged by a 39 percent drop, but I never lose sight of the fact that these are human lives lost at work."
Buncombe, Forsyth and Mecklenburg counties had two workplace deaths each last year. Seventeen other counties, including Wake, Cumberland, Harnett and Lee, had one on-the-job fatality each.
All of those killed were men. Twelve of them were white, 10 were Latino and one was black. The average age was 44.
Construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing were the two leading industries for fatal accidents, with seven apiece in 2013. The number of fatalities in construction decreased from 10 in 2012, while the number in agriculture, forestry and fishing remained the same as the previous year.
There were four fatalities in manufacturing, down from six in 2012. Retail trade experienced two fatalities, and wholesale trade experienced one in 2013. There was one fatality in the transportation and public utility industry, as well as one in the services industry.
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health has identified four hazards that have caused 80 percent of the work-related deaths in North Carolina during the past decade. The leading cause of the work-related fatalities in 2013 was struck-by events with 11. Six other workers died in falls from elevations, while three died after being caught in or between objects, and one was electrocuted.
Two other workers died from inhalation of toxic fumes, which is not one of the main four hazards.
The division has established partnerships with some of the most hazardous industries to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
“All of us – safety professionals, employers and employees – must do better in identifying struck-by hazards, which represented nearly half of the fatalities last year,” division director Allen McNeely said in a statement. “Staying vigilant around heavy machinery and construction material is critical.”