There are a number of workers in industries that may not assume or considered they could suffer an injury or illness in a workplace accident, or even be killed in a fatal work incident. Unfortunately, even occupations that appear relatively safe have risks and dangers associated to them. All workers in North Carolina and other states in the nation could potentially be victims in a fatal work-related incident.
Although it was reported last year that the number of workplace fatalities had declined in North Carolina, it is possible that not all workplace deaths are accounted for in North Carolina's Department of Labor (DOL) numbers. In fact, according to a newspaper investigation, eighty worker deaths may not have been accounted for. Among those killed and possibly not accounted for were farmers, mechanics, janitors, roofers and painters killed by a workplace hazard. The investigation alleges that some workers die each year in North Carolina in workplace accidents but because of debates over state laws, their deaths are not investigated and, in turn, are not reported.
Unfortunately, there have been multiple workplace accidents in North Carolina recently. Most recently, several hours east in the state's capital, a scaffolding accident occurred when scaffolding broke free from a high rise construction project. The scaffolding accident occurred when the scaffolding broke free from the façade of the project workers were working on. Several men were on the scaffolding when it broke free and the scaffolding fall resulted in the death of three workers and injured a fourth.
Officials are investigating the cause of a ConMet plant explosion in Haywood County on Dec. 4 that resulted in the injury of a worker. Officials say that the incident happened just before 9 a.m. while the injured employee was working on an injection-molding machine.
The National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health states that falls are a leading cause of work-related deaths. They specifically caution employers against the unsafe operation of suspension scaffold equipment.
In a trend that a National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson called "disturbing," the number of fatalities among workers completing projects on railway tracks has increased over the past few years. According to reports, 15 workers, including one in North Carolina, were killed in 2013. This figure is up from eight in 2012 and five in 2011.
A 31-year-old educational forest ranger died from the injuries he suffered while he was working at the Tuttle State Educational Forest in Lenoir. The Aug. 13 incident occurred during the afternoon hours when a tree suddenly split and violently struck the worker's chest as he was using a tractor to move it away from the park's roadway. The ranger, who was immediately transported to a local hospital for treatment, succumbed to his injuries a short time later, according to the report.
On July 15, an employee with Crypton Fabrics in Gaston County died while working overnight at the plant, according to reports. The identity of the worker was not initially released .
Each year, the group AFL-CIO analyzes workplace accident data from across the nation and publishes a report called “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” The 2014 version of that report was recently released, and the numbers are shocking. Every single year, approximately 3.8 million illnesses or injuries suffered on the job are reported across the nation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal governmental agency tasked with regulating and enforcing workplace safety laws. By law, states are required to adhere to OSHA mandates. In an effort to address workplace concerns unique to the state and region, North Carolina is one of 22 states that has chosen to develop its own state-run OSHA plans. While many of the functions of OSHA are considered necessary and important, some state politicians are concerned about the financial toll complying with such regulations puts on small business owners.