The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the number of workplace fatalities in North Carolina was down by 10 in 2012, with 138 that year compared to 148 in the prior year.
Reductions were also reported in South Carolina, where there were 31 workplace fatalities reported in 2012, compared to 81 in 2011.
In both cases, our Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers understand, transportation injuries were the leading cause of death at work, which was a factor in line with the rest of the country as well.
Just recently, a trucking company in Thomasville was fined by the N.C. Department of Labor for safety violations that led to the death of a 22-year-old back in March. According to media reports, the employee was working under the hood of a tractor-trailer when it fell on him and pinned him underneath, crushing him to death. The fines were reportedly issued for lack of a hazardous materials policy, failing to follow proper protocol for workers maintaining vehicles and failing to provide hazard assessments for those workers required to wear personal protection equipment.
The revised count of the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2012 indicates that there were 4,383 work-related fatalities recorded in the U.S. last year. That’s down about 6.6 percent. However, that’s reflective of the overall total. There were some industries in which the workplace fatality risk actually rose.
For example, fatal work injuries in the private construction industry increased by 5 percent, from 738 in 2011 to 775 in 2012.
Contractors were at especially high risk of workplace fatalities, with 708 contractors killed last year – most of those worked in the construction and transportation industries.
Another major area of concern was the risk to workers under the age of 16. Those figures nearly doubled, from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012. That’s the highest it’s been since 2005.
Nationwide, transportation-related incidents accounted for 2 out of every 5 workplace deaths last year. Of the 1,789 transportation-related workplace deaths tallied last year, about 58 percent occurred on the roadway.
Workplace violence also remained a big problem last year, with a total of 767 workers falling victim to violence at work.
In South Carolina, incidents of workplace violence tapered off from 11 recorded incidents in 2011 to 3 in 2012. However, workplace violence incidents rose in North Carolina, from 29 in 2011 to 32 last year.
Interestingly, in 2011, men made up the vast majority of workplace violence victims in North Carolina, while the reverse was true in 2012.
What we can summarily conclude from all these figures is that employers at the local, state and federal levels must do more to bolster worker safety. It is unacceptable that even one person should leave for work one day and never return. It is especially egregious when we know that the vast majority of these incidents are entirely preventable.
If you or a loved one is involved in a work accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid.
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2012, released Aug. 22, 2013, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Scaffolding Collapse In Marion Injures 8 And Triggers Investigation, Aug. 13, 2013, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog