On-the-job deaths down in Michigan

Published On: Apr 25 2013 10:35:33 AM EDT
EAST LANSING, Mich. -

The number of workplace deaths in Michigan declined in 2012, as an estimated 127 workers died on the job compared to 141 in 2011, according to preliminary figures from an annual report compiled by Michigan State University.

Agriculture saw the largest number of deaths at 17, while the construction industry had the second most at 15, followed by transportation and warehousing with 13, according to the Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, or MIFACE.

The program -- administered by MSU’s Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, part of the College of Human Medicine -- investigates work-related deaths and seeks to identify ways to prevent them.

"This reduction in fatality rates is encouraging, but worker deaths are almost always preventable and even one is too many," said Kenneth Rosenman, director of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The report shows that motor vehicles caused the most deaths with 32, followed by 28 homicides, 12 machine-related deaths and 11 falls. Guns were involved in 71 percent of all workplace homicides.

"We monitor these figures for the same reasons we track any other public health problem," Rosenman said. "It's important to know the scope of the problem so we can plan interventions to solve it. And these numbers make it clear that Michigan has a way to go in terms of getting all companies to create a culture of safety on the job."

The MIFACE data are being released in preparation for Workers Memorial Day on April 29. Workers and public health professionals across the country pay tribute to the about 5,000 Americans killed each year by work-related trauma. Another 60,000 U.S. workers are estimated to die each year from cancer, lung disease and other illnesses from work-related exposures.

A Workers Memorial Day remembrance will be held at noon April 29 at Wentworth Park in Lansing. Rosenman will speak at the event, along with Norwood Jewell, director of the UAW Region 1C; and Glen Freeman, President of the Greater Lansing Safety Council.

MIFACE is a research project of MSU funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MSU works closely with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration on the project.

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