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Workplace Fatalities on Decline in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, workplace fatalities dropped 34 percent in 2012 based on preliminary figures released yesterday. The preliminary figures showed fatalities dropped from 53 in 2011 to 35 in 2012.

Last year the N.C. Department of Labor committed to doubling its campaigns to try to raise awareness and prevent workplace accidents from occurring. Employers and employees across the state were asked to recommit themselves to workplace safety and health and it appears the drive paid off with 18 fewer fatalities in 2012. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry stated that “While zero is the only acceptable number, we are encouraged by a 34 percent drop and to see that our joint efforts with the thousands of employers and employees made a difference.”

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division has taken a proactive approach to reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by establishing partnerships with some of the most hazardous industries in North Carolina. The OSH Division provided these employers with industry guides, posters, and focused training. The OSH Division also began issuing hazard alerts regarding forklifts, struck-bys, heat stress and firefighter safety after identifying problems in those areas the previous year.

The 35 workplace fatalities of 2012 were concentrated in 25 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Wake counties had the most deaths with three each. Fourteen workers died after being struck by objects, six were caught between objects, five died in falls from an elevation, four were electrocuted and six died in other events. Men accounted for all but one workplace death, according to N.C. Department of Labor.

Construction was the leading industry for fatal accidents with 10 in 2012, a decrease from 16 in 2011. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing had the second-highest number of deaths with seven, down from 10 in 2011. The number of fatalities in manufacturing increased from three in 2011 to six in 2012. The services industry also saw an increase in fatalities, from four in 2011 to six in 2012. Wholesale trade experienced three fatalities, and retail trade experienced one in 2012. There was one fatality in the transportation and public utility industry as well as one in the public sector

According to N.C. Department of Labor, North Carolina remains one of the top 10 safest states in the country for workers, with an injury and illness rate at an all-time low of 3.1 per 100 full-time workers.


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