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Work-related deaths still high despite continued efforts


Most people in North Carolina enjoy their work and take pride in what they do, but they should not have to get hurt on the job or contract an illness in connection with their work. Much work has gone into ensuring the number of people who die in a work-related accident decreases, but in recent years progress has stalled and the number of people dying on the job across the country remains high. In fact, more than 4,600 died on the job and another 50,000 died from occupational diseases in 2012.

According to a report released by the AFL-CIO labor group, even though many more protections are offered to workers today than were previously available, it is still not enough. More needs to be done to further lower the number of work-related injuries and illnesses.

One of the areas that particularly requires progress is silica exposure. Medical research has proven that silica exposure causes many deadly lung conditions including lung cancer, but updated silica exposure policies have yet to reflect this. Many occupational health experts have called on regulators to work on lowering worker exposure to silica at air construction sites but the final rule has yet to go into effect, as industry trade groups lobby to keep the rule unchanged. Meanwhile, workers are contracting workplace diseases.

Workers falling sick on the job or sustaining a workplace injury have the right to file a workers' compensation claim, as it is their employer's duty to create a safe working environment for them. All workers have the right to earn their livelihoods without risking their lives, and where an employer endangers them, they should be held accountable.

Source: Huffington Post, "More than 4,600 workers were killed on the job in 2012," Dave Jamieson, May 5, 2014

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