Former employee kills two, self at New Mexico firm

Violence third leading cause of workplace deaths in U.S.

The fatal shooting of two employees at an Albuquerque, N.M., business by a former employee in July is a grim reminder workplace violence is the third most-common cause of at-work deaths in the United States, according to government figures.

A former employee of fiber optics company Emcore shot and killed two employees at the business's offices on July 12 before turning the gun on himself, according to police. One of the victims is believed to be the shooter's wife or girlfriend.

In 2008, the most recent year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has data, assaults and violent acts accounted for 816 deaths at work, down about five per cent from 2007.

Transportation accidents were the leading cause of workplace deaths at 2,130, followed by contact with objects or equipment at 937.

Falls, exposure to harmful substances and fires or explosions round out the top causes of workplace fatalities.

Assaults and violent acts are the 10th most-common cause of disabling injuries in the workplace, costing employers US$600 million in 2007, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance.

The top cause of serious injury at work is heavy lifting or some other form of over extension, which accounts for almost one-quarter of all injuries and costs companies US$12.7 billion, according to the insurer. Other workplace hazards include: falls, tripping or slipping, injuries from being struck by an object, highway accidents and repetitive motion.

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