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Job violence, accidents kill 384 in state

Construction workers fared worst in 1998, but roads were the deadliest place for workers.

More people in Florida died at work last year, and truckers and construction workers were most at risk.

The roads were the deadliest place for workers: Ninety-two were killed in highway crashes while on the job. Eighty-five were killed in the construction industry.

In all, 384 people died on the job last year in Florida. That was 18 more than the 366 reported deaths in 1997, the state Department of Labor said Wednesday in its annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Shane Stephens, statistical supervisor at the Labor Department's Division of Safety, said officials don't know why workplace deaths went up, but he suspects low unemployment might be a contributing factor _ the more people at work, the greater the chances of workplace deaths.

Some of the deaths were specifically work-related, such as the deaths of three men in a tanker truck explosion touched off by welding sparks, and a ship repair worker crushed by an elevator on an aircraft carrier at Mayport Naval Station, Jacksonville.

Fifty-nine workers were killed in falls, 30 were electrocuted, and seven died from fires or explosions.

But daily hazards faced by everyone were the most common causes of workplace deaths _ particularly accidents on the road.

More than half of the people who died while working last year were killed in some kind of transportation crash, including 15 killed in plane crashes.

Fifty-nine people were killed driving trucks.

Others who were working met their deaths on the roads as well, including five taxi or limousine drivers.

Still others, including police officers who died in crashes and people killed while making deliveries, weren't broken out specifically in the data released by the state. But the total number of workers killed on the highways in 1998 was 92, up considerably from the 76 in 1996.

The deadliest industry as a whole was construction. Among the 85 construction workers who died were 25 laborers, 10 electricians, eight carpenters, five metal workers and four roofers.

Assaults and violent acts were the second-largest category of workplace deaths behind transportation incidents. Sixty-three people were victims of homicide at work. Eighteen others committed suicide at work.

Deaths on the job

Some 1998 deaths on the job by occupation:

Construction industry, 85

Truck drivers, 59

Supervisors and proprietors in sales, 21

Farm workers, 15

Police, other law enforcement, 13

Airplane pilots, navigators, 11

Cashiers, 5

Restaurant or hotel managers, 4

_ Department of Labor