By Thomas H. Davis Jr.
Special to North Carolina Construction News
The year 2018 was the deadliest year for North Carolina construction workers in more than five years. For the fiscal year, the North Carolina Department of Labor reported 49 work-related fatalities. Of these, 49 percent (24) were construction-related deaths.
This increase in workplace deaths is in stark contrast to the record low workplace injury and illness rate for the same period. The non-fatal occupational injury and illness rate in our state fell to a record low of 2.3 injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers. By contrast, the state’s accident and injury rate in 2008 stood at 3.7 per 100.
The most common cause of fatalities in the construction industry was falling from an elevated platform. Such falls accounted for 50 percent of all construction deaths. In most cases, the deaths could have been prevented if the worker had used proper fall protection equipment or followed proper safety procedures.
Due to a combination of increased construction work across our state and the increase in construction-related fatalities, the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has indicated an increased focus on construction worksite inspections this year. Contractors should, therefore, expect more visits to project sites, and increases in citations issued.
Employers in the construction industry should review, with their legal counsel, their safety plans and training programs to make certain they are in compliance with current OSHA Standards. Emphasis on employee training, as well as emphasis on the enforcement of safety rules by employers, are the keys to a safe construction worksite.
Thomas H. Davis Jr. is a lawyer with Poyner Spruill in Raleigh. He can be reached at (919) 783-2816 or by visiting https://www.poynerspruill.com/People/Thomas-H.-Davis-Jr