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Labor Department: 23 workers killed in North Carolina in 2013

Last year was a dangerous one for working people in North Carolina. The state Department of Labor reports a total of 23 people who were killed in workplace accidents in 2013. While this is a troubling total -- nearly two a month -- it is the lowest number of worker deaths in at least three years.

The figure may be misleading, because the Labor Department does not count workers killed on the job in auto accidents. Among the deaths included in the agency’s report, 11 were killed by motor vehicles or falling objects. This category appears to distinguish between a car accident, and a worker being hit by a car, perhaps like in a road construction site.

That appears to be the most deadly category of workplace injury. Six workers died in falls. Three more were killed by machinery; another two died from toxic fumes; and one worker was electrocuted.

Though even one person killed on the job is one too many, it is encouraging to learn that last year’s total is nearly 40 percent lower than in 2012, when 38 people were killed. The year 2011 was even more deadly; there were 53 workplace deaths then.

The News & Observer notes that increased workplace safety regulations, both locally and nationwide, have reduced the number of serious injuries and deaths on the job. In 1999, there were 5.7 injuries and illnesses per 100 North Carolina workers. By 2012, there were just 2.9 work injuries and illnesses per 100 workers.

That is better than the national average for that year. There were 3.4 U.S. workers hurt or sickened out of 100 in 2012.

Still, men and women in North Carolina are sometimes laid up because of an injury or illness sustained at work. Workers’ compensation is available for people in this situation.

Source: News & Observer, “Workplace deaths declined again in North Carolina last year,” Richard Stradling, Jan. 16, 2014

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