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North Carolina safety officials underreport workplace deaths

No family deserves to deal with the death of a loved as a result of a workplace accident caused by unsafe working conditions. Yet the situation may be worse when the families feel as though they are being treated unjustly. A recently released report suggests that numerous work-related deaths are not being accounted for by North Carolina workplace safety agencies.

Recently, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health compared news reports of worker deaths to the figures reported by state agencies. Their findings were both shocking and disappointing. In 2011, a total of 83 people died on the job, but the state Department of Labor reported only 53 casualties.

The report goes on to say that workers in North Carolina are dying at an "alarming" pace. Labor advocates even go as far as saying that state officials are intentionally failing to report statistics and enforce regulations designed to uphold worker safety. Whatever the case, something is wrong when a total of 30 individuals who passed away on the job are not included in official workplace safety statistics.

If a person dies on the job, particularly if it is due to the negligence of their employer, their families deserve some measure of justice. Nothing can completely measure up to the grief and long-term impact the loss of a loved one will have on a family, but steps can be taken to ease their pain. Although workers' compensation survivor's benefits are issued to most families involved in this situation, the hope is that more will be done. Ensuring that existing safety regulations are adequate and consistently enforced should be the primary goal of any occupational safety agency.

The memory of those lost due to a workplace accident can be preserved by honest attempts to improve overall working conditions in an effort to minimize injuries and prevent workplace deaths altogether.

Source: NBC-17 News, "Report shows NC job deaths under reported," Charlotte Huffman, April 27, 2012

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