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Homicide Is #1 Cause Of Death In Philadelphia Area Workplaces

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(File photo: the scene of a fatal shooting at a Kraft plant in Northeast Philadelphia last September.)

(File photo: the scene of a fatal shooting at a Kraft plant in Northeast Philadelphia last September.)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New numbers are out on workplace-related deaths in the Philadelphia metro area. And the US Labor Department says homicide is the most common way to die on the job.

The region covering Philadelphia, its suburbs, South Jersey including Camden, and parts of Delaware and Maryland saw 66 workplace deaths in 2009.

Regional commissioner Sheila Watkins of the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics says work-related homicides accounted for 20 percent of the total (see related stories).

“Which were 13,” she explained. “Of those, 12 were shootings.”

Watkins said that many occurred at small, mom-and-pop shops, usually retail related, with armed robbers involved.

Falls were the second most frequent cause of workplace deaths in Philadelphia, responsible for 17 percent of the fatalities.

Barbara Rahke, director of the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Health and Safety (“Philaposh”), says that figure is trending downward due to increased training and fall protections.

“And so, the good news is it’s having an impact.  But there’s no good news when a person gets killed for going to work,” she said.

Highway incidents — transportation type fatalities — including deaths of long-haul truck drivers, accounted for 15 percent of fatal occupational injuries in the region.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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