North Carolina sees 39% decrease in workplace deaths in 2013

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Figures released by the N.C. Department of Labor shows that workplace fatalities dropped 39% in 2013.

According to statistics, fatalities in 2013 were 23, down from 38 in 2012. The number of workplace fatalities in 2011 was 53.

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said in a statement that the department is pleased with these low number, but the only acceptable number is zero.

“We are encouraged by a 39 percent drop, but I never lose sight of the fact that these are human lives lost at work. The average age was 44 years old. These were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, co-workers and friends. I believe North Carolina is benefiting from increased awareness of safety and health in both private industry and the government, but we must do better,” Berry states.

Four hazards, known as “the big four,” were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Division. These hazards have caused 80% of the work-related deaths in North Carolina during the past decade.The leading cause of the work-related fatalities in 2013 was struck-by events with 11. Six workers died in falls from elevations, and three workers died after being caught in/between objects. One was electrocuted. Two workers died from inhalation of toxic fumes, which is not one of the big four hazards.

The Labor Department’s OSH Division has taken a proactive approach to help prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities in North Carolina workplaces by establishing partnerships with some of the most hazardous industries. The division also issued hazard alerts regarding forklifts, struckbys, heat stress and firefighter safety after identifying problems in those areas in previous years.

In North Carolina, the latest injury and illness rate for private industry achieved an all-time low of 2.9 per 100 full-time workers in 2012. The latest data revealed that North Carolina was one of 15 states with a rate statistically lower than the national average of 3.4.

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