When a major event occurs like the recent explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 and injured hundreds of other workers and residents, it prompts thought in other jurisdictions such as South Carolina or officials that oversee issues on a national level.
For example, investigators determined that the recent explosion occurred after regulators failed to either observe or record a number of potential hazards on the site. Did company and government officials both contribute to a fatal workplace accident that could have been prevented?
The National Council on Occupational Safety and Health recently published a report that outlined the number of workplace fatalities that occurred in 2011 on a state-by-state basis. What they found was that accurate reporting was a problem in some states.
For example, according to the council's report there were 148 workplace fatalities within the borders of our northern neighbor. The North Carolina Department of Labor, however, officially reported a drastically different number of 53 total workplace fatalities.
According to the North Carolina DOL, the agency has a limited authority to report workplace deaths although they have unlimited authority to track them. Specifically, the ones that the agency has also has the authority to investigate thus ruling out fatalities related to transportation or workplace violence. Is the underreporting here a failure of regulatory laws?
Underreporting can be a major issue not only at a state or federal level but at an individual company level as well. Employers who fail to report certain injuries, especially fatal ones may be in violation of state and federal laws.
Source: The Huffington Post, "North Carolina Workplace Deaths Nearly Three Times That Reported By State: Study," Jillian Berman, April 30, 2013