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North Carolina workplace tragedies recalled

If you drive east of Charlotte for about four hours, you will come to the town of Kinston, North Carolina. Many will undoubtedly recall it as the site of an explosion at a pharmaceuticals plant back in early 2003.

The violent blast was triggered by combustible dust. Six workers lost their lives and dozens more were injured in one of North Carolina's worst industrial disasters. The incident was recently listed in a compilation of "the 53 companies with the most fatal accidents."

Another North Carolina industrial tragedy sits atop the list: the 1991 fire in Hamlet that killed 25 people and injured more than five dozen others, a recent news article recounted.

Late that year, the New York Times described the fire in the chicken-processing plant as one that began when hydraulic fluid from a ruptured line sprayed into flames heating cooking vats.

When workers ran for safety, many found that some of the exits were blocked.

These are among the worst workplace tragedies in the U.S., with both of them hitting close to us here in Charlotte.

After the Hamlet disaster, the North Carolina Department of Labor levied just over $800,000 on the plant; a fine many at the time considered a slap on the wrist, the newspaper stated.

It goes without saying that it is never easy for a family to lose a loved one in a workplace accident. For many in that situation, the loss is not only deeply personal, but also financial.

Far too often, insurers will try to take advantage of grieving families. However, spouses, parents, children and others can discuss with an attorney experienced in fighting for full and fair compensation in workplace death claims.

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