Worker Injury Rate Plummets In North Carolina, Some Question Data
The North Carolina Labor Department reported that the rate on worker injuries was 3.1 injuries per 100 full-time employees in 2009. This is significantly lower than 2008’s rate of 3.4 worker injuries per 100 full-time workers and also significantly lower than the rates reported by other states across the country.
Many state officials believe that the shockingly good worker injury numbers are in part due to North Carolina’s workplace safety programs. Others, however, believe that many workers in North Carolina are simply not reporting their injuries. In addition, some critics say that North Carolina’s workplace safety program is not effective because of low fines for even the most serious safety violations. Even the US Labor Department criticized North Carolina’s program for ignoring serious safety problems or not treating serious issues with appropriate vigor.
One expert noted that with the recent recession and high unemployment rates in the minds of North Carolina workers, many could be suffering injuries quietly out of fear that a workers’ comp claim or injury report would put them at risk for losing their job. Many are already handling larger work loads because of company cuts – a change that should reflect a higher number of workplace injuries, not a lower number.