Startling figures from the National Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reveal work injuries contribute to approximately 12,900 injuries per day. About every 7 seconds a person is hurt at work. Of these, more than 400 people die from work injuries per day. These numbers may surprise many folks, but what is more surprising is that with advances in technology, improved safety training, and regulation changes, the numbers of fatal injuries are increasing. Unfortunately, the BLS report for 2014, which was finalized in early 2016, shows that the death rate for work injuries was the highest it has been since 2008.
In North Carolina, a few changes have occurred over the past few years.
Efforts to Make Workplaces Safer
More protections for hospital personnel. In late 2015, legislation went into effect that increases protections for hospital workers who are assaulted at work. Attacking a hospital worker (or provider) is now a felony in North Carolina.
Consequences for non-compliant employers. Employers (in certain industries) with three or more employees are required under North Carolina law to carry workers' compensation insurance. A new database and regulation changes make it easier for officials to identify violating employers.
- Increased restrictions on silica exposure. Although not limited to North Carolina as it applies nationwide, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved new limitations for how much silica workers can be exposed to during work shifts. The new numbers are lower than previous standards and many industries are affected, including one of North Carolina's biggest markets: Agriculture.
- Work injury report requirements. Another factor affecting North Carolina and beyond is OSHA's new injury report requirement, which applies to employers with 250+ employees in certain industries. The work injury reporting data will be made public for qualifying workplaces. As many employers don't want to be perceived as operating a negligent workplace, the reporting feature will be rolled out to help encourage safer workplaces.