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Massachusetts seeing troubling trend in on-the-job deaths



On-the-job deaths in Massachusetts are increasing at an alarming rate, according to a new report.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO teamed up to create the 2022 Dying for Work: Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces report in remembrance of Worker Memorial Day which took place this week.

62 Massachusetts workers lost their lives while on the job in 2021 with fatal injuries killing 52 people and 10 firefighters dying from work-related diseases such as cancer and heart attacks. The figure doesn’t take into account COVID-19 deaths from virus exposure and other illnesses due to occupation which would make the total even more concerning. There were 45 workplace fatalities in Massachusetts in 2020. Over 50,000 people died in the United States from occupational illnesses every year before COVID-19.

Construction workers made up 30 percent of work-related fatalities (15), the highest occupation total in the state. Surprisingly, 5 retail workers were killed last year while on the job.

Of the Massachusetts workers fatality injured in 2021, 46 were men and 6 were women. The average age was 48
years old. The youngest worker killed was just 19 years old; the oldest was 77.

Among those killed were Lal Kishor Mahaseth, a convenience store owner in Fall River that was shot to death, James Dumas, a Fall River electrician, roofer Lucindo Rosa of Acushnet, and David Wahlstrom, a West Wareham firefighter.

Workers are not only dying more often, but still getting injured at a high rate.

In 2020, there were 69,400 work-related injuries and illnesses in MA with 45,000 of them leading to days off from work, job relocation, or job restriction.

In addition to job-related deaths, workers also died on the job due to non-work-related reasons. Fatal overdoses and suicides while working claimed 38 lives in 2021, a 52 percent increase from the year before.

The report states that some workers took opioids because their doctors prescribed them so they could continue to work while in pain and unintentionally overdosed.

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