Excellent News for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System — Death Rates for NC Workers in 2009 Down Significantly

January 14, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina workers’ compensation experts are cheering some new numbers released about accidental workplace deaths in the state. According to 2009 statistics compiled by the state’s Department of Labor, only 35 workers across North Carolina were killed on the job last year. Eight of these deaths resulted from explosions or fires; six resulted from projectile objects; five resulted from crushing injuries; and three deaths resulted from electrocution. June, 2009 saw the highest number of workplace fatalities in the state — due to the Slim Jim plant explosion that occurred early in that month. According to the DOL, no one was killed in April, 2009.

More good news: the DOL numbers have shown a steady but significant decline in the past several years. In 2008, 56 workers died on the job. In 2007, 45 workers were killed.

The rate of injuries and illnesses on the job also seems to be in decline. Back in 2004, around 4.1 workers out of 100 reported some kind of injury or illness. That number dropped to 4 out of 100 in 2005. By 2007, that number was down to 3.7 out of 100. And last year, the number dropped again to 3.4 out of 100.

To what do North Carolina workers’ compensation experts credit this improvement in safety and decline in illnesses and injuries? Like all issues of epidemiology, it can be very difficult to tease out causation from data like these. Sure, experts may point to safety improvements in this or that industry, and some can suggest that better sanitary measures taken at work or improvements in safety equipment might be responsible for some of the decline in deaths and illnesses. But without a rigorous comprehensive scrutiny of the evidence (and even then, you can probably question the validity of any findings), no one will likely be able to pinpoint where state workers and employers are “going right.” That being said, however, the DOL will no doubt continue to track trends to look for meaningful associations that might suggest potential programs, infrastructure changes, or strategies to help keep NC workers safe and healthy.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury at work — or if a family member was unfortunately killed while on the job — you may be eligible for substantial North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. However, given how complicated the benefits disbursal system can be, it may behoove you to connect with an attorney who specializes in this kind of work to ensure that you get the payments you deserve — when you deserve them — and that you don’t suffer any undue harassment or stalling on the part of insurance companies or employers.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Department of Labor

NC Slim Jim plant explosion 6/2009


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