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Number of North Carolina fatal workplace injuries under-reported

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) is reporting that the number of North Carolina workers that died on-the-job last year may be much higher than reported by the Department of Labor for our state. The Department of Labor reported that there were approximately 35 deaths in 2012 attributed to workplace injuries. COSH puts that number somewhere around 150.

The report issued by COSH specifically discussed the death of one worker that died while digging a trench at North Carolina State University. According to COSH, the state repeatedly failed to make the company he worked for comply with safety regulations prior to the worker’s death. The report also pointed out that the state’s fines are substantially below amounts of federal penalties issued by OSHA.

There are concerns that federal sequestration will limit the ability of OSHA to conduct inspections. However, sequestration can’t be blamed for the fact that there are companies in the state that have managed to avoid being inspected for the better part of 100 years. In the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in the Lone Star state, there seems to be a growing outcry for safer workplace conditions.

It is the responsibility of every employer to do what they can to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Not only should the facilities be safe, but the equipment should be as well. Proper training may also help keep employees from suffering workplace injuries. Any employee that finds they have been injured due to unsafe working conditions has the right not only to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, but to report the company in an effort to prevent anyone else from being hurt.

Source: ThinkProgress.org, “North Carolina Under-Reported Worker Deaths And Ignored Multiple Workplace Safety Violations,” Aviva Shen, April 30, 2013