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Construction accidents lead worker deaths

Posted On: Jan. 26, 2015 12:00 AM CST

Work-related fatalities in North Carolina increased markedly in 2014, data released last week by the North Carolina Department of Labor shows.

Forty four workers were killed on the job in 2014 in the state, up from 23 fatalities recorded in 2013. By sector, the construction industry saw the most fatalities with 19, followed by the manufacturing sector with nine fatalities and the service industry with six work-related fatalities.

North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said one troubling trend is that the data indicates that many of the construction accidents are happening to workers within the first 60 to 90 days of being on the job.

“These deaths are tragic,” Ms. Berry said in a statement. “To hear that workers are getting injured on the first day or between 60 and 90 days on the job sends a red flag that the workers are not getting the necessary training prior to starting the work.”

As for causes of death, struck-by events accounted for the most work-related deaths with 18, while falls accounted for 13 deaths and seven workers died after being caught in or between objects.

“All of us — safety professionals, employers and employees — must do better in identifying struck-by hazards, which represented nearly half of the fatalities last year,” said Allen McNeely, director of North Carolina's Occupational Safety and Health Division said in the statement. “Staying vigilant around heavy machinery and construction material is critical.”