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If we thought that the news could not get worse in this failed and battered economy, now comes the news that workplace deaths in North Carolina have increased. Preliminary numbers released by the North Carolina Department of Labor report 59 work-related deaths in 2008, up from 45 in 2007. After three years of decline in the number of work-related deaths, officials are suggesting that the slowing and sagging economy may be to blame. Alarming also is that we are seeing the number of work-related deaths rise in the hispanic worker population as compare to other races.

Tom O’Connor, coordinator of the safety advocacy group National Council for Occupational Safety and Health says that while you might expect the number of occupational deaths to decrease during a bad economy because there are not as many people working, a down economy can put pressure on employers to cut corners. One might also expect that fewer workers are being asked to do the job of many, which can create many hazards in the workplace. Unfortunately, in a sagging economy, employers turn to less experienced and, thus, lower-paying workers.

Labor Department spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry said that training and safety measures are among the first items cut from budgets in a down economym, making their workplaces more dangerous. Employers must be warned that their employees must be trained and that all safety precautions must be taken. A sagging economy is not an excuse to put a worker’s life at risk.

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