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August 13, 1982

Preventing Injuries, Disability, and Death at Work (Starting With Vehicles and Guns!)

JAMA. 1982;248(6):723-724. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330060063038

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In this issue of The Journal (p 692), Baker and colleagues report a painstaking epidemiologic investigation of all 148 fatal work-related injuries for one year in the state of Maryland. The diverse causes and circumstances are specified in detail and on a scale far more comprehensible than the National Safety Council's national estimates of 13,000 deaths and more than 200 million lost workdays per year. Surprisingly, perhaps, the leading cause of death by far was motor vehicle accidents of many kinds, and the second leading cause was assault with guns. The majority of deaths involved hazards not addressed by most professional or regulatory efforts to improve occupational safety and health. People who drive on the job, pilots, farmers, and persons at high risk of being assaulted are outside the protection of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for all practical purposes.

These results in one state reflect the nationwide shift