On-The-Job Accident Deaths Rose 31% in 2008

Posted on Feb 04, 2009
The Charlotte Observer released frightening numbers in relation to on-the-job fatal accidents in North Carolina. After a three-year declining trend in 2005, 2006, and 2007, the rate of job death skyrocketed 31% in 2008. Many experts and officials fear that this trend could be the result of companies cutting corners and safety training in light of a poor economy. There were 59 deaths in the workplace in 2008, as opposed to 45 deaths the prior year, according the North Carolina Labor Department. Six died in December alone.

An industrial worker in Charlotte, 46-year-old Johnny Drosinis, was crushed by a hydraulic lift at the cement block factory where he worked. It is not clear whether the company allowed the father of four to operate the heavy machinery without the proper regulations and safeguards. Some witnesses report that the machine had malfunctioned and that Drosinis was in the area trying to fix the machine himself.

Labor Department officials worry that the recession could make matters even worse in the coming year, with safety training and safety initiatives for workers among the first things to go as companies try to trim expenses. 

Another issue may be the lack of fines for serious violations of labor regulations - North Carolina's fines for such violations are less than half of the national average, and the cement factory where Drosinis worked had over 100 violations in the past three years, with over 30 serious violations that could lead to worker injury or death.