By Joseph Wilson, Jr., Attorney at Law
As a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney, I have met people from all walks of life who have been injured on the job. In some cases, these folks worked in jobs that they knew were dangerous, but many times they did not expect to be injured at work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics within the U.S. Department of Labor collects all workers’ compensation reports and compiles data on an annual basis to track injury, illness and fatality data.
Worker injury data is tracked by industry, so we can see which jobs tend to be the most dangerous. The charts below show non-fatal injury and illness data for 2011 broken out by private sector jobs and local government jobs. These charts show the incidence rate per 100 full-time employees (FTEs) for each industry, as well as the actual number of cases (remember that the chart does not show how many workers there are in each industry so a large number of cases may actually represent a very small percentage of the overall workforce). As we might expect, government jobs held by fire protection and police protection personnel have the highest incidence rates at 13.5 and 11.3, respectively. You might not expect to see nursing and residential care facility workers with the third highest rate at 10.2 cases per 100 FTEs. When we look at the private sector, we find jobs in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting have the highest incidence rate at 5.5 cases per 100 employees. This is followed by health care and social assistance, then transportation and warehousing, both with a rate of 5.0 incidents per 100 employees.  
Workers are injured every day, and while most of these injuries are not severe, for those that are, the worker’s may face a long recovery. There have been some work related injuries in the press recently, including a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper who was hit by a car in September and just returned to the state after weeks of rehab in Atlanta, and the fire earlier this month at Durham Regional Hospital that sent three employees to the emergency room for treatment.
No job is 100% safe. Office workers can trip on loose carpet and fall, machinery can break, equipment can catch fire, or workers can be involved in an auto accident caused by another’s negligence. Workers’ compensation is designed to pay the medical expenses and lost wages of those injured on the job. In some cases, however, there are disputes or there are third-parties involved who may also be liable for your injury. If you have been seriously injured on the job, you should speak with a workers’ comp attorney.