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March 15, 2024
Clarke Speaks

What Are the Main Causes of Industrial Accidents in Charlotte, North Carolina?

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Industrial environments are vital to the economic growth of North Carolina, playing a crucial role in various sectors. However, inherent risks accompany these settings, as evidenced by the state's 2022 report of over 74,300 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses, This alarming statistic underscores the potential dangers present in industrial settings across the state, including here in Charlotte.

By being aware of these common risks, you can take proactive steps to protect yourself. Throughout this blog, we'll delve deeper and answer the question, “what are the main causes of industrial accidents in Charlotte” and explore the resources available to you in North Carolina, including the benefits of the Workers' Compensation Act and potential legal options specific to such situations.

Navigating the aftermath of an industrial accident can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. We understand the challenges you may face, and want to empower you with knowledge and support. This blog is a starting point, but if you need personalized legal guidance, the team at Speaks Law Firm is here to help. We offer a free, confidential case review to discuss your situation and explore your options. Reach us at (980) 237-6948 to speak with one of our experienced industrial accident attorneys.

Main Causes of Industrial Accidents in Charlotte

The high prevalence of workplace injuries and illnesses in North Carolina, as discussed earlier, underscores the critical need for awareness and safety measures. As such, this section explores the specific risks faced by workers in industrial settings with a focus on the main causes of industrial accidents in Charlotte:

Fires and Explosions

charlotte workers’ comp

The nature of the hazard lies in the presence of flammable materials, chemicals, and high-heat processes commonly found in various industrial settings. These materials include:

  • Flammable liquids: Gasoline, diesel fuel, solvents, and paints are some examples of flammable liquids commonly used in industrial settings like manufacturing plants, automotive repair shops, and printing facilities.
  • Flammable gas: Natural gas, propane, and acetylene are examples of flammable gasses used in various industries, including welding, metalworking, and food processing.
  • Combustible dusts: Wood dust, flour dust, and grain dust are examples of combustible dusts that can pose a significant explosion risk, especially in facilities like woodworking shops, flour mills, and grain elevators.

Malfunctions in equipment or improper storage of these hazardous materials can also trigger explosions and fires.

Industrial Machinery Accidents

Workers operating heavy machinery in various industrial settings like manufacturing plants, construction sites, and warehouses risk getting caught in, struck by, or crushed by equipment. These accidents can occur due to several factors:

  • Malfunctioning machinery: Equipment breakdowns due to mechanical failures, electrical issues, or lack of proper maintenance can lead to unexpected movements or malfunctions, causing serious injuries.
  • Inadequate training: Workers who are not adequately trained on how to safely operate and maintain specific machinery are at a higher risk of accidents.
  • Failure to follow safety protocols: Bypassing safety interlocks, not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and exceeding weight limits are all examples of safety protocol violations that can increase the risk of accidents.

Regular equipment inspections and maintenance are crucial for preventing malfunctions and ensuring the safety of workers. Additionally, employers have a legal obligation to provide proper training and enforce safety protocols to minimize the risk of industrial machinery accidents.

machinery accidents

Falls from Heights

what are the main causes of industrial accidents

Workers in construction, roofing, window cleaning, and other industries who perform tasks at elevated heights, such as catwalks, ladders, and scaffolding, are vulnerable to serious injuries or death from falls. These accidents can be exacerbated by several factors:

  • Inadequate fall protection equipment: This could include faulty harnesses, lanyards, lifelines, or guardrails that fail to properly arrest falls. 
  • Unsafe work surfaces: Slippery surfaces, uneven footing, or cluttered work areas at heights can increase the risk of losing balance and falling. 
  • Poor weather conditions: Strong winds, rain, and snow can significantly impact visibility and make working at heights even more hazardous due to slippery surfaces and reduced stability.

Falls from heights remain a leading cause of death for construction workers, accounting for 395 of the 1069 construction fatalities recorded in 2022 alone (according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). These deaths were entirely preventable, emphasizing the crucial need for constant awareness and adherence to safety measures.

The tragic consequences of neglecting fall safety protocols are evident in real-world situations. A local news report in Charlotte in 2023 described the tragic case of a construction worker who fell from scaffolding due to a faulty locking mechanism, resulting in fatal injuries. This is just one example of how inadequate fall protection equipment can have devastating consequences.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Even though they might seem less severe, slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of workplace injuries across all industries, and industrial settings are no exception. These accidents can occur due to several factors:

  • Spills of liquids or chemicals: Industrial workplaces often handle various liquids and chemicals, and spills can create slippery surfaces, increasing the risk of slips and falls. 
  • Uneven flooring: Uneven surfaces due to damaged floors, potholes, or improper leveling can cause workers to trip and fall. 
  • Poor lighting: Inadequate lighting in work areas can make it difficult to see potential hazards like uneven surfaces or obstacles, leading to slips and falls. 
  • Cluttered work areas: Cluttered walkways and workspaces increase the risk of tripping over objects or stepping on unstable surfaces.

Proper housekeeping practices are crucial for preventing slips, trips, and falls. This involves keeping work areas free from potential tripping hazards, such as loose electrical cords, uneven surfaces, and misplaced tools.

charlotte workers’ comp

Understanding North Carolina Workers' Compensation

charlotte workers’ comp

If you’ve been injured in an industrial accident, the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act provides a comprehensive safety net for injured workers, offering various benefits to help you cope with the physical, financial, and emotional challenges following an industrial accident. Here's a breakdown of the key benefits available to you:

Medical Expenses

Charlotte workers’ comp covers all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your work injury. This includes:

  • Hospitalization costs: If your injury requires hospitalization, the workers' compensation program will cover associated costs, including room charges, nursing care, and other hospital fees.
  • Prescription medications: All prescriptions deemed necessary for your treatment and recovery by your authorized healthcare provider will be covered under workers' compensation.
  • Doctor's visits and other healthcare services: Regular visits to your doctor, specialists, therapists, and other healthcare professionals involved in your treatment are covered by workers' compensation.
  • Assistive devices: If your injury necessitates the use of assistive devices like wheelchairs, crutches, or prosthetics, these costs are typically covered under the program.
  • Rehabilitation costs: Workers' compensation will cover the costs of physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other forms of rehabilitation deemed necessary for your recovery and return to work.

Temporary Disability Benefits

If your work injury prevents you from returning to work entirely or limits your ability to work your full pre-injury hours, you may be eligible for temporary disability benefits. These benefits are designed to partially replace your lost wages during your recovery period. 

The amount you receive will be two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum limit set by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). These benefits continue until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which means your doctor determines your condition has stabilized and no further improvement is expected.

Permanent Disability Benefits

In cases where your work injury results in a permanent impairment that affects your earning capacity, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. These benefits are awarded based on the severity of your disability as determined by a doctor and expressed as a permanent impairment rating. The NCIC uses a specific formula to calculate the amount of these benefits, which are typically paid out as a weekly or bi-weekly payment.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If your work injury prevents you from returning to your previous job due to your limitations, North Carolina's workers' compensation program may offer vocational rehabilitation benefits. This program aims to help you regain your earning capacity by providing various services, including:

  • Vocational assessment: To determine your skills, aptitudes, and limitations 
  • Job training and education: To equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary for a new career path suitable for your current abilities 
  • Job placement assistance: To connect you with suitable job opportunities that match your acquired skills and limitations

Death Benefits

Tragically, in the event a work-related accident results in the death of a worker, their surviving dependents may be eligible for death benefits. These benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to the deceased worker's family and are calculated based on several factors, including:

  • The deceased worker's average weekly wage
  • The number of dependents relying on the deceased for financial support
  • The degree of dependency of each survivor

Additionally, the program provides up to $10,000 in burial expenses to help ease the financial burden on the family during this difficult time.

Important Considerations

While North Carolina's workers' compensation system offers valuable benefits, it's crucial to understand some key points:

  • Workers' compensation benefits are exclusive in most cases, meaning you cannot sue your employer for additional compensation like pain and suffering.
  • The maximum weekly benefit for temporary and permanent disability is capped at two-thirds of your pre-injury wages.
  • Workers' compensation cases go through the NCIC, which has established procedures and limitations compared to the personal injury lawsuit system.
  •  what are the main causes of industrial accidents

The Human Cost of Industrial Accidents

While understanding the main causes of industrial accidents is crucial, it's vital to remember the human cost associated with these incidents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 217 work-related fatalities in North Carolina in 2022, marking an increase from the previous year. This data serves as a stark reminder of the tragic consequences that can occur in various workplaces.

The report details different categories of fatal work events:

  • Falls, slips, and trips: These incidents saw a significant rise, causing 42 fatalities compared to 29 in the prior year, highlighting the importance of fall prevention measures.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: This category accounted for 37 fatalities, emphasizing the need for robust safety protocols and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate risks associated with hazardous materials and environments.

These statistics are a sobering reminder of the potential dangers workers face daily. It underscores the critical need for prioritizing safety in all workplaces. By implementing effective safety measures, raising awareness, and encouraging safe work practices, we can strive to prevent future tragedies and ensure the well-being of all workers.

Legal Options Beyond Workers' Compensation

what are the main causes of industrial accidents

While North Carolina operates under a no-fault workers' compensation system, in specific circumstances, you might have legal options beyond receiving workers' compensation benefits:

  • Third-Party Negligence: If a third party, other than your employer or co-worker, was negligent and their actions directly caused your injury, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Examples include: 
    • Faulty equipment manufactured by a third party: If a malfunctioning machine caused your injury due to the manufacturer's negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against them. 
    • Negligence of another company on the worksite: If another company operating on the same worksite contributed to your accident through negligence, you might be able to pursue legal action against them. 
  • Intentional Harm: In rare cases, if your employer intentionally caused your injury or acted with reckless disregard for your safety, you may be able to sue them directly.

Given the complexities, consulting with an experienced Charlotte personal injury attorney is crucial. They can help you understand your specific situation, determine if you have grounds for legal action beyond workers' compensation, and guide you through the legal process.

Challenges in Navigating Workers' Compensation Claims

While the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act provides valuable benefits for injured workers, navigating the system and securing the full compensation you’re entitled to receive can be challenging. Here's why:

Insurance Company Tactics

Many workers' compensation insurance companies and other insurance providers are incentivized to minimize payouts. They may employ various tactics to delay, deny, or reduce your benefits, such as:

  • Raising questions about the work-relatedness of your injury
  • Disputing the extent of your injuries or the need for medical treatment
  • Offering lowball settlements that fail to adequately cover your long-term needs
  • Using complex legalese and procedures to confuse and discourage you

Navigating the System

The workers' compensation system can be complex and involve strict deadlines and procedures. Filing claims, appealing denials, and attending hearings can be overwhelming, especially while dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of your injury.

Protecting Your Rights

Understanding your rights and ensuring they are protected throughout the process is crucial. This includes knowing your appeal rights, the limitations of the system, and how to navigate potential conflicts with your employer.

How an Attorney Can Help

charlotte workers’ comp

An experienced North Carolina industrial accident lawyer can significantly increase your chances of overcoming these challenges and securing fair compensation for your injuries. They can:

  • Advocate for your rights and ensure your claim is filed correctly and on time
  • Gather evidence to support your claim, including medical records and witness statements.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to fight for a fair settlement in your Charlotte workers’ comp claim.
  • Represent you in hearings or appeals before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
  • Protect you from insurance company tactics and ensure you are not taken advantage of during a vulnerable time.
  • Explore and pursue legal options beyond workers' compensation: As mentioned earlier, while North Carolina operates under a no-fault workers' compensation system, in specific circumstances, you might have legal options beyond receiving workers' compensation benefits:
    • Third-party negligence lawsuits: If a third party, other than your employer or co-worker, was negligent and their actions directly caused your injury, your attorney can help you explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against them. They will guide you through the process of gathering evidence, building a strong case, and negotiating with the third party's insurance company or representing you in court.

Remember, seeking legal assistance is crucial to navigate the complexities of the workers' compensation system, maximize your chances of receiving full compensation after a work-related injury, and explore potential legal options beyond the workers' compensation system if applicable.

Seeking Legal Help After an Industrial Accident?

If you've been injured in an industrial accident in Charlotte, NC, navigating the aftermath can be overwhelming. Understanding your rights and exploring legal options can be crucial in securing the support and compensation you’re entitled to receive.

At Speaks Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling industrial accident cases. We understand the complexities of these situations and are dedicated to protecting your rights and best interests. Our team will: investigate the cause of the accident to identify any potential negligence, help gather and analyze evidence to build a strong case on your behalf, work diligently to secure the maximum compensation you may be entitled to, including medical bills, lost wages, and more.

Don't navigate this challenging time alone. Schedule a free consultation with Speaks Law Firm today to discuss your case and learn how we can help you move forward. Call us at (980) 237-6948 or contact us via our online form to speak with an industrial accident attorney. We're here to listen, answer your questions, and be your advocate throughout the legal process. Because in these critical moments, who speaks for you matters. Let it be us.

Copyright © 2024. Speaks Law Firm. All Rights Reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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