Monday numbers: Workplace-related deaths in NC last year were second-highest in a decade

By: - February 6, 2023 6:00 am

A chart showing the number of workplace fatalities in 2022: 66, including three that were related to COVID-19. Source: NC Department of Labor. A fall from a ladder. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Electric shock. COVID.

More than 60 people died on the job last year in North Carolina, a third of them construction workers, according to NC Department of Labor figures released last week.

Construction work is among the nation’s most dangerous jobs, but the pay often doesn’t reflect the risks. For example, a roofer in North Carolina earns an average of $36,467, according to

The “fatal events,” as the report describes them, demonstrate how a routine workday can turn tragic. A 39-year-old Latino man working at Bottomley Evergreens & Farms in Yadkin County died when he became caught between a pickup and a farm trailer. 

Bottomley has been cited four times since 2006 by OSHA for workplace safety or health violations — twice in 2021. Fines totaled $29,000.

The average age of a deceased worker was 44. However, the range was wide: An 80-year-old man working for the Town of Boiling Springs died after being hit by a car. Two 19-year-olds died at separate jobs, both in Johnston County: A man working for Salazar Carpentry died of electrocution and a Murphy USA gas station employee was fatally stabbed in a bathroom.

Three deaths were from COVID-19, according to DOL, although that could be an undercount, depending on whether all deaths from the illness were reported or could be tied to the workplace. Two of the cases involved health-care workers.

Here is a sobering look at people who died as a result of their jobs last year, according to the NC Department of Labor*:

63 – Number of non-COVID work-related deaths, the second-highest amount since 2012. Only in 2020 did more workers die as a result of their jobs: 65

3 – Worker deaths that were COVID-related, two of them among health care employees

21 – Number of construction deaths, up from 15 in 2021. Most of the fatalities were due to falls.

11 – Number of service industry deaths, down from 26 in 2021

10 – Number of workplace-related deaths in the manufacturing sector

9 – Number of deaths among workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing

7 – Number of government workers who died as a result of their job

6 – Number of workplace-related deaths that occurred in Durham County, the highest number in the state

5 – Deaths in Wake and Johnston, each

3 – Deaths in Guilford and Mecklenburg, each

24 – Number of deceased workers who were white

20 – Number who were Latinx

8 – Number who were Black

1 – Number who were Native American

54 – Number who were men

9 – Number who were women

44 – Average age of deceased workers

*State figures exclude fatalities that fall outside its jurisdictional authority. These include traffic accidents, which account for nearly half of all work-related deaths, as well as some homicides and suicides that are investigated by law enforcement agencies. The count also excludes fatalities investigated by federal OSHA and other exemptions in which the department does not have the authority to investigate, such as on farms with 10 or fewer employees.

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Lisa Sorg
Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.