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Nation, North Carolina commemorate workplace fatalities

On April 28, workplace safety advocates throughout the country -- including North Carolina -- addressed the issue of on-the-job fatalities. According to reports from the Bureau of Labor statistics, the rate of worker deaths was unchanged between 2010 and 2011. This news may be disappointing, as safety conditions in certain industries haven't improved year over year.

Specifically, the construction industry remains one of the most dangerous in the country. In 2011, 738 workers died in construction site accidents accross the U.S., which is the most in any single industry. Despite efforts by various organizations to mitigate risks at construction sites, workers are still exposed to danger.

Looking beyond just the construction industry, a total of 4,693 people died in workplace accidents in 2011. A representative from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health indicated that nearly all of these fatlities could have been prevented had employers followed basic safety measures. Interestingly enough, many of those guildlines are already mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  

Some legislators are looking at ways to better enforce workplace safety mandates that are already in place. Supporters of change indicate that the current system of enforcement for employers is "outdated" and needs "teeth" to truly be effective. The bill at the center of this effort targets the most serious safety violations at workplaces, which could help many people working in the construction industry.

As people throughout the state and country remember workers who died on the job during the last year, it may also be beneficial to remember what kind of protections currently exist for those affected by workplace accidents. In addition to safety standards mandated at a state and federal level, North Carolina's workers' compensation laws often provide financial coverage for injury victims and the families of those who are in a fatal accident.

Source: NPR, "On-The-Job Deaths Continue At Steady, Grim Pace," Howard Berkes, April 26, 2013

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