Here is a thought-provoking editorial on this topic from labor advocate Joe Atkins, published in "Facing South."
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation is underway regarding a tragic manufacturing accident in North Carolina that resulted in the death of a 35-year-old worker. Detectives with a county sheriff's office have ruled it an accident and OSHA is investigating whether anything could have been done to prevent the incident. Such investigations are standard after industrial accidents have taken place, particularly those that result in workplace injuries or deaths.
Often, car accidents may take place when drivers fail to pay attention to changing road conditions or to reduce speed in construction zones. To counter such motor vehicle accidents, North Carolina recently expanded its "Move Over Law," which requires drivers to either slow down or move over one lane when passing a halted emergency vehicle, to include roadside utility and transportation crews.
Workplace injuries can result in fines to negligent employers that harbor unsafe working environments. In addition, they can also lead to a workers' compensation claim by the injured worker to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
An injured worker is entitled to represent himself in court or in a workers' comp claim in North Carolina. Is it a good idea?
When an employee in North Carolina reports an on-the-job injury to his or her employer, the employer will usually report it to the insurance carrier for investigation. At that point the insurance adjuster assigned to the claim will begin interviewing witnesses, including the injured worker. These adjusters typically call the injured worker on the phone and ask to take a "recorded statement" as part of the initial investigation of the case.
Workplace injuries are sometimes inevitable due to the dangers of a particular job. Fortunately, the workers' compensation system in North Carolina is designed with this reality in mind. However, efforts are made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help avoid workplace accidents that can lead to injury or death. Although workers' compensation benefits are helpful to those who are injured, most would agree that preventing the accident in the first place should be a priority.
Fortunately, very few workers are killed on the job in NC every year.
When someone suffers an accidental death on the job, his or her survivors often face financial challenges in addition to emotional anguish. Though no amount of money can temper the grief of a tragic loss, compensation can sometimes be obtained through workers' compensation or wrongful death suits to mitigate lost income, funeral and medical expenses and emotional damages.