Workplace fatalities see increase in North Carolina and nationwide

This article looks at federal data showing a sharp rise in workplace fatalities, especially for certain workers.

Workplaces in both North Carolina and across the country have gotten much more dangerous in recent years according to a recently released report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The report shows that workplace deaths in the United States went up by seven percent in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. As the Insurance Journal reports, that continues a three-year streak of workplace fatality increases and also marks 2016 as the first year in nearly a decade that workplace deaths have exceeded 5,000.

Workplace deaths continue to climb

There were 5,190 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2016, which, as mentioned above, is the third-consecutive year of increases and the first time in close to a decade that fatalities have been above 5,000. In fact, the last time workplace fatalities were so high was in 2008 when deaths had reached 5,214 before the economic crisis led to a dramatic fall in fatal incidents.

However, the increase is not due only to more people simply being employed. The fatality rate per 100,000 full-time workers also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 in 2015 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2016.

North Carolina was one of 36 states where fatalities increased. In 2015 there had been 150 workplace deaths in the state, but in 2016 that figure rose to 174. As a result, the death rate per 100,000 workers in the state increased from 3.4 in 2015 to 3.7 in 2016, which is slightly higher than the national average.

Some occupations see record-high fatalities

It should come as no surprise that certain occupations are more dangerous than others, with loggers, fishers, pilots, and roofers having the highest fatality rates on the job in 2016. However, other occupations saw substantial climbs in their fatality rates as well, even those that are not usually considered overly dangerous. Fatalities for food preparation and serving-related workers went up by 64 percent, installation, maintenance, and repair workers by 20 percent, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers by 14 percent, and sales and related workers by 11 percent.

Meanwhile, constructions trades supervisors, landscapers/groundskeepers, roofers, tree trimmers and pruners, drivers and sales workers, automotive mechanics and technicians, and farmworkers all saw their highest fatality rates since the BLS adopted their current occupational classification system in 2003.

Help for injured workers

A workplace injury is an ordeal not just because of the physical suffering it causes, but because of the financial toll it can take on workers and their families. Medical bills can add up quickly and the time taken off work can add even more financial pressure. That's why injured workers need to contact a workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients pursue the maximum amount of compensation that they may be entitled to.