Fewer people died on the job last year, according to data released today by the N.C. Department of Labor.
It may be tempting to say the numbers — 34 deaths in 2009 compared to 57 in 2008 — reflect the recession. After all, fewer people are working, especially in industries that are typically the most hazardous: manufacturing and construction.
But Allen McNeely, director of the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Division, said that's not the case.
“To get a true gauge of how employers are doing, we look at the rate that fatalities are occurring, which takes into consideration the fluctuations in the workforce," McNeely said in a statement. "While we may have had fewer working, the work being performed is still extremely hazardous. We are encouraged by the fact that the fatality rate is decreasing.”
The fatality rate for construction per 100,000 workers over the past four years has decreased from 9.00 in 2006 to 6.98 in 2009, according to Labor's data. Last year, 14 people died in construction-related accidents compared to 17 in 2008. Meanwhile, eight workers died in manufacturing accidents compared to nine the previous year.