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Newly released data from the North Carolina Department of Labor confirms that COVID-19 was the leading cause of work-related fatalities in 2021.  Overall, COVID-19 was found by the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSH) to be responsible for 33.8 percent of all workplace fatalities in the state last year.  The majority of the COVID-related workplace fatalities, almost 70 percent, were in the services industry which includes healthcare.

 The next largest number of non-COVID work-related deaths in 2021 came from struck-by incidents.  The most dangerous industry for non-COVID workplace deaths was the construction industry.  However, the overall number of fatalities in the construction industry in 2021 fell by more than 40 percent from the previous year.  Manufacturing had the third-highest number of workplace fatalities, followed by government, transportation, and the public utility industry.

There were no workplace fatalities recorded in 65 of the state’s counties.  Guilford County had the most fatalities, followed by Mecklenburg, Wake, and Buncombe counties.  Approximately 50 percent of the victims were white males, while 32 percent were Hispanic males and 14 percent were Black males.  There were only three non-COVID workplace fatalities involving women recorded in 2021by the Department.

The continuance of fatalities in the workplace should be a concern of management in every industry.  Each company should review its Safety Plans with professional assistance to make certain employees are being provided the best and most up-to-date training and direction to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate fatal workplace accidents.

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