ATLANTA -- Job-related deaths dropped sharply from 1980 to 1994, the government reported, while homicides surpassed machinery accidents to rank second only to traffic accidents as the causes of workplace fatalities.
A study released Thursday by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found the number of work-related deaths dropped 27 percent from 1980 to 1994. Because of the growth of the work force, the rate per 100,000 workers dropped 41 percent -- from 7.5 per 100,000 workers in 1980 to 4.4 in 1994.
"There is good news in that the overall fatality rate is on the decline ... at the same time there are still a remarkable number of job-related deaths that we think are inherently preventable. That's where the focus needs to be," said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Washington D.C.
The study, using death certificates, found that traffic accidents accounted for 23.1 percent of the 88,622 deaths reported during the 15-year-period of the study, said Dr. Dawn Castillo, a CDC researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The second leading cause of death was homicide, 13.5 percent. The majority of those killed were service employees, such as taxicab drivers and convenience store clerks, Ms. Castillo said. Employee-on-employee violence accounted for only a fraction of the deaths.
Homicides surpassed machinery accidents beginning in 1990.
Machinery accidents were third with 13.3 percent of the deaths for the 15-year period, she said.
Among industries, construction related-jobs had the greatest share of the deaths, 18.2 percent, followed by transportation-related jobs, 17.7 percent, and manufacturing related-jobs at 14 percent.
"You curb the deaths with a recognition of the problem ... (and) applying the needed resources," said Peg Samanario, spokeswoman with the AFL-CIO.
She recommended employers provide continual training and more security for employees in high-risk jobs.