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Number of Workplace Deaths Underreported in North Carolina

Fatal workplace accidents happen more often in North Carolina than the state reports, says a new study by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health. The North Carolina Department of Labor reported that 35 workers were killed in 2012 but the NCOSH says that the actual number of workplace deaths could be three times higher.

The study found that workplace fatalities are underreported in North Carolina because the state does not count fatalities caused by car accidents, workplace violence or deaths among self-employed workers in their current reports. The NCOSH also reported that penalties for unsafe work environments are too low to make companies improve their working conditions and take proactive measures to prevent workplace accidents.

North Carolina’s Department of Labor said that the state has seen a decline in workplace fatalities, showing that the state’s approach to workplace safety is working. However, the study indicates that the number of fatal work accidents and injuries are underreported and that many of these accidents are preventable.

The study reported several disturbing findings, including that more Latino workers die on the job in North Carolina. In the state, Latinos makeup roughly nine percent of the state but made up for 28 percent of work fatalities. The study also reported that violence in the workplace has increased and that many more workplace fatalities are being caused by violence. 

The study found that one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities were transportation accidents while on the job. Researchers said that North Carolina does not count these deaths but they should as it is the most common cause of fatal work accidents in the state during the last five years. 

Underreporting fatal workplace accidents is a very serious issue in North Carolina because it allows workplaces to remain unsafe instead of addressing potential safety hazards. Workplace safety advocates say that North Carolina officials need to improve their reporting practices to make sure they are aware of all the types of workplace accidents in the state. 

Source: Security Info Watch, “Study: N.C. job deaths undercounted,” Ames Alexander, May 2, 2013