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Michigan Workplace Deaths Show Slight Dip In 2011

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EAST LANSING (AP) - Fewer people died in Michigan workplaces last year compared to 2010, according to a Michigan State University report.

The Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program reported Tuesday that 141 workers died on the job in 2011 — four fewer than in 2010.

The program, administered by the school’s Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, annually investigates work-related deaths and seeks ways to prevent them.

“While we are always encouraged that fatality rates are not rising, one death is too many,” said Kenneth Rosenman, the division’s director. “Workplace deaths are almost always avoidable, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be seeing a decrease in deaths.”

Of the workers killed last year, 24 were in construction, 22 worked in agriculture and 17 in manufacturing. Utilities and the information industries had one death each.

Twenty-three workers were killed in motor vehicle accidents and 23 in falls. Homicide accounted for 16 deaths last year and 26 in 2010. Four of last year’s homicides were police officers.

The number of overall work-related deaths has declined since 182 were reported in 1999. There were 174 in 2001 and 157 in 2006. Only 96 were reported in 2009.

Rosenman is also concerned by the underreporting of burns in workplaces across the state. Records from 134 Michigan hospitals, a Workers’ Compensation Agency, death certificates and the state Poison Control Center revealed 1,461 work-related burns in 2009. Employers reported 450 to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Surveillance is a basic premise of public health,” Rosenman said in a release. “We need an accurate counting of the magnitude of a condition to determine the amount of resources to devote to the problem, to plan interventions and to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions.”

About 5,000 Americans are killed each year in the workplace, according to Michigan State’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine division. An estimated 60,000 die each year from cancer and lung disease and other work-related illnesses.

The annual report on workplace deaths was released ahead of Saturday’s Workers Memorial Day observations. Events are scheduled Thursday in Lansing and Saturday in Detroit.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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