After reaching an all-time low in 2009, workplace deaths in North Carolina jumped more than 40 percent last year reports the Charlotte Observer. There were 48 on-the-job deaths statewide in 2010, compared with 34 the previous year, according to data released Friday by the N.C. Department of Labor.
As in past years, the most deadly industry was construction, where there were 15 fatalities statewide – one more than last year. The number of NC construction deaths has fallen about 40 percent since 2006 – about the same rate at which construction activity declined.
Despite the rise in workplace deaths, last year’s toll was lower than average. From 2005 through 2009, an average of 53 N.C. workers died on the job each year. “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,” said N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry. “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.”
Why deaths rose last year is unclear. Some safety experts have speculated that a sagging economy may play a role if companies scrimp on safety to make ends meet. The two leading causes of death last year were falls and accidents in which workers were struck by vehicles or objects.
Berry pointed to what she says is an encouraging sign: a decline in reported workplace injuries. There were 3.1 reported workplace injuries in the state for every 100 full-time workers in 2009, an all-time low. Injury figures for 2010 have not yet been released. Read More.