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Workplace Deaths In Maryland Grew By 59% Last Year

Nov 13, 2003 | AP

Workplace fatalities in Maryland grew by more than 50 percent in 2002, marking the state's largest annual increase in a decade, according to statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The spike comes as workplace fatalities across the country are dropping.

The number of occupational deaths in Maryland jumped to 102 in 2002, from 64 in 2001, according to the statistics released Monday. Meanwhile, the number of work fatalities nationwide fell to 5,524 in 2002, from 5,915 a year earlier.

"Maryland tends to average more in the low 80s, so last year, 2001 was especially low and this year seemed to be especially high, and we don't know exactly what contributes to that," said Sheila Watkins, regional commissioner for the Bureau of Labor Statistics' mid-Atlantic region. "Both years seem to be different from the norm."

There were 25 deaths in Maryland's construction industry last year, up from 19 in 2001. Stephen Bisson, a statistical administrator with Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health agency, said that figure increased because of the large amounts of construction in the state.

Highway accidents and homicides at work each claimed 22 last year. Homicides at work, which include shootings and stabbings, are typically a result of holdups at gas stations and retail stores, Watkins said.

Highway crashes include truck drivers and salespeople driving to a sales call, but they do not include accidents during the commute to or from work.

Nationwide, highway crashes for years have been a leading cause of death at work, and in 2002 they accounted for a quarter of the country's workplace fatalities.

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