Most workplace injuries in North Carolina and nationally are preventable. They just do not have to happen.
According to a new study by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health roughly 4,383 men and and women died in United States workplaces in 2012 as a result of acute traumatic events. This includes falls, explosions, vehicle accidents and machine accidents. Forty one percent of these were transportation related. These numbers hold true in North Carolina. When non-traumatic deaths are included, such as occupational diseases, the numbers jump dramatically, perhaps by ten fold. In North Carolina, traumatic workplace deaths have fortunately been on the decline in recent years.
A study cited in the report placed the overall cost of workplace deaths at $51.49 billion, including the cost of medical treatment and lost productivity. Non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries are estimated to cost the U.S. economy an additional $198 billion a year. So the workers’ compensation costs of these deaths and injuries is only the tip of the iceberg.
The vast majority of these workplace deaths and injuries in NC are preventable. According to the report:
The people who lose their lives while trying to earn a living are not, in most cases, victims of random events or circumstance. In fact, the dynamics of the hazards in contemporary workplaces are well understood. The risks of injury, illness and death can be reduced or eliminated with proper training, procedures, monitoring and documentation.
The industries with the most on the job injuries in North Carolina include manufacturing, education and health services and retail sales.
Fortunately, there are resources available to workers and employers to help make North Carolina workplaces safer. Employers and workers should make use of them prevent workplace injuries in NC and to reduce workers’ compensation costs in NC.
- The NC OSHA program offers education, training and technical assistance to employers and workers aimed at reducing workplace injuries.
- The North Carolina Industrial Commission Safety Education Section offers “competent, practical instruction in accident prevention.” This includes information, courses and workshops for NC workers and employers.
- The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Plan for Preventing Injuries and Violence is another good source of information on workplace safety.