The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) division of North Carolina’s Department of Labor collects data every year to determine how safe workers are in the Tar Heel State. The OSH takes into account fatalities in nearly every industry within the state, although they do not have proper jurisdiction to include incidences such as traffic accidents, which make up approximately half of all work-related deaths.
The most current data from OSH should instill confidence in anyone that works within North Carolina. Overall, the total number of work-related fatalities dropped to 39 in 2018. That was one less than the previous year. Falls occurring in a workplace accounted for nine of the deaths in 2018, while 14 people were killed in struck-by incidences.
“It is encouraging to see the number of work fatalities falling,” says Whit Whitley of Whitley Law Firm, “but until we can bring that number down to zero, it is still too high.”
Not surprisingly, the construction industry saw the most fatalities with 16 work-related deaths. However, even this dangerous industry is improving. The number for 2018 was one less than the prior year. Coming in behind the construction industry was the manufacturing industry, which had a total of eight work-related deaths in 2017. This figure too, was down from 11 in 2017.
While government-related jobs had five fatalities in the workplace in 2017, that fell to just one in 2018. In addition, the wholesale trade industry had only one death in 2017 and improved upon that last year with no work-related fatalities.
Unfortunately, not all industries saw a decline in work-related deaths. Transportation and public utilities had only one death in 2017, but that jumped to four in 2018. The service industry did not have any deaths in 2017 but had four in 2018.
It is clear that when it comes to job safety, North Carolina is improving in most areas. This is largely in part to increased awareness, and the education and training offered by the OSH to reduce injuries and deaths in the workplace. Still, 39 deaths is still too high, showing that in North Carolina, there is room for improvement.