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North Carolina Workplace Deaths Climb in 2011

Workplace deaths in North Carolina rose in 2011.

Preliminary data released by the N.C. Department of Labor suggests 53 people died in work-related accidents this past year, which is up from 50 in 2010. Nevertheless, the 2011 figure is in line with the average (53.2) over the last five years, according to the report.

Once again construction had the most fatalities with 16. The fishing, agriculture and forestry sectors saw 10 deaths each, while public utilities and transportation produced six apiece.

By region, seven deaths occurred within or near the Triad of N.C. By county, Wake experienced the most fatalities, with six; Mecklenburg saw five.

The most common type of workplace fatality was being hit by an item (18). Falls came in second with 17. Surprisingly, heat-related deaths appeared on the report – there were four – for the first time since 2006. The state’s labor commissioner told the Winston-Salem Journal in light of the increase in workplace heat-related and overall fatalities, safety and health should be a top priority in 2012. Other breakdowns of the 53 work-related deaths in N.C. showed 52 were men and 30 white.

Employers do have a legal responsibility to provide safe environments for their workers and to adhere to all federal law concerning employee well-being.

While the number of workplace deaths increased in 2011 from 2010, workers in the Tar Heel State should be comforted to learn the state’s illness and injury rate were at all-time lows for the private sector. The report indicates the rate has declined to 3.1 for every 100 full-time employees in 2009 and 2010 from 5.3.