NCDOL Releases 2010 Workplace Fatality Figures


Raleigh, NC (CompNewsNetwork) - Preliminary figures released today by the N.C. Department of Labor show 48 fatal work accidents in 2010, up from 34 in 2009, with the two leading causes of workplace fatalities being struck-by accidents and falls.

“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. “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 48 fatal work accidents in 2010 are below the five-year average of 53.2.

The NCDOL Occupational Safety and Health Division tracks fatalities to identify patterns or trends and to alert industries as a means to prevent similar accidents. The OSH Division also partners with employers and employees in hazardous industries like construction to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. In 2010, the OSH Division issued hazard alerts regarding bridge construction, tree care and forklifts after identifying problems in those areas.

The OSH Division has identified four hazards known as “the big four” 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 2010 was struck-by accidents with 16 fatalities, followed by falls with 15. Nine workers 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,” said Allen McNeely, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Division. Some speculate that job loss and a weakened economy have workers worried about their livelihoods and this distraction may be a factor.

The state's injury and illness rate, which is the best barometer for measuring how the state is doing in terms of safety and health, is currently at an all time low for private industry. The injury and illness rate has steadily declined from 5.3 per 100 fulltime workers in 2000 to 3.1 in 2009.
“The injury and illness rate is encouraging for our state because it shows dramatic reduction in the number of employees injured per 100 workers,” Commissioner Berry said. “Although injuries and illnesses are headed in the right direction, the ultimate injury—a fatal accident—is not. We will work even harder to educate our employers and employees in creating a safety culture that reduces these accidents.”
Manufacturing, dropped from eight fatalities in 2009 to six in 2010. Construction fatalities increased by one to 15 in 2010. There were six fatalities in the service industry, the same number as in 2009. Transportation and
public utility fatalities increased from one in 2009 to five in 2010. Wholesale trade experienced five fatalities, and retail trade experienced four in 2010, an increase from no fatalities for wholesale trade and one for retail trade in 2009.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing fatalities increased from two in 2009 to four in 2010. Finance, insurance and real estate accounted for three of the 2010 fatalities. There were none in that sector in 2009.
There were no work-related fatalities in 66 of North Carolina's 100 counties. Mecklenburg County experienced the most fatalities with seven. Eight counties had two fatalities. They were Beaufort, Burke, Cleveland, Gaston, Guilford, Nash, Pitt and Rowan. There were 25 counties that experienced one fatality. 
Whites accounted for 32 of the 48 workplace deaths. Blacks and Hispanics accounted for seven apiece. One victim was Asian and one was Native American. Men accounted for 47 of the 48 workplace fatalities. 

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