Commentary

Tragic worker deaths and injuries highlight dangerous workplaces in North Carolina

Three workers were killed and one was gravely injured after falling from a scaffold which collapsed yesterday at the Charter Building in downtown Raleigh. A Department of Transportation worker was also killed yesterday in Wayne County. Construction and transportation are some of the most hazardous jobs in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Labor. Agriculture and manufacturing also lead the list of dangerous industries.

The NC Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NC OSHA) had a five year goal to reduce the construction fatality rate by 5% by the end of Fiscal Year 2013, which they achieved. Unfortunately, since the end of that program, it appears that construction deaths have been on the rise again.

More than 20 years ago, North Carolina was reeling from the deaths of 25 workers at the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant in Hamlet, NC. We put into place important reforms to encourage workers to make health and safety complaints and to protect them when they do. We’ve made a lot of strides as a state to improve worker safety, but when we observe Worker Memorial Day at the end of April we will remember that safe workplaces are still not the reality for all North Carolina workers.

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