National

Deaths on job up 31% in N.C.

A Charlotte industrial worker died Tuesday while operating heavy machinery, another in a recent series of North Carolina workplace accidents that has labor officials worried the slumping economy could be endangering workers.

Authorities are investigating the death of Johnny Drosinis at Cemex Inc.'s concrete block plant south of Huntersville, where the 46-year-old father of four worked with his son-in-law. Drosinis was crushed beneath a hydraulic lift that stacks concrete blocks, and relatives now question whether the company allowed the machine to operate without proper safeguards.

Workplace deaths rose in North Carolina in 2008 after three years of declines. There were 59 work-related deaths last year, compared with 45 in 2007, an increase of 31 percent, according to preliminary figures from the N.C. Department of Labor. The agency plans to release a final report next week.

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