Local News

Construction Deaths Rising in Wake County

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MORRISVILLE — Construction-related deaths are becoming more and more of a problem in the Triangle.

Wednesday, a worker was crushed by a slab of concrete, and Thursday, a water truck backed up and killed a D.O.T. inspector in Wake County.

OSHAinvestigators are on the case of Thursday's death. They are looking into the possibility that the rear signal that sounds when the truck is moving backwards did not go off.

But OSHA investigators say there is a bigger story, a growing trend of construction-related deaths in Wake County.

North Carolina's OSHA offices report between August 1997 and July 1998, Wake County has had seven construction-related deaths. That compares to none in previous reporting periods.

"Certainly, there's been some problems with regards to the construction industry," said Greg Cook, an N.C. OSHA spokesman.

Because of this, OSHA has recently launched a campaign to increase construction safety awareness and hammering home its point by offering to visit sites and give pointers.

"We have gotten some response," Cook said. "Some people are leery. But our mission is not to enforce but also to inform. That's what we want people to know."

Many builders applaud this effort, realizing OSHA visits are necessary medicine.

"If you were to run out on a job site any given day, you can see somebody that's vulnerable to getting hurt and possibly killed. That's going on constantly. It's bad for our business. It's bad for our insurance rates. It's very bad. You don't want people dying on your sites," said home builder Jeff Fike.

OSHA investigators say that if they go to a site, consult a builder and find violations, they willnotcite them for it. Instead, they will tell them to get rid of the problem.

OSHA also says that Mecklenburg County has a similar problem to the one in Wake County.


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