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Trash collecting among most dangerous civilian jobs, data shows; police still investigating death in Mount Airy

The on-the-job death of a garbage collector might not be a common occurrence in Carroll County, but federal statistics show the job is one of the nation’s most dangerous for civilians.

Brian Keith Hawkins, 54, of Frederick was pronounced dead just after 6:28 a.m. Saturday in the 1700 block of Pullman Court in Mount Airy after a J & J Inc. Trash Service truck driven by his co-worker hit him while he was collecting trash, according to a Monday news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

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Authorities were still investigating the incident Tuesday, according to Cpl. Jonathan Light, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office. Light said in an email that he had no update to provide.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks “refuse and recyclable material collectors” fifth for civilian occupations with high fatal work injury rates in 2017, behind roofers, pilots and flight engineers, logging workers, and, at the top, fishers, according to the 2017 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which is part of a Bureau of Labor Statistics safety program.

Fallon Pearre, director of communications for the Office of the Sectary of the Maryland Department of Labor, wrote in an email Tuesday that 2017 is the most recent year for published data.

Twenty-nine people in the solid waste collection industry died from work-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017, according to the CFOI, Pearre wrote.

“Twenty of these deaths were transportation-related incidents, while eight involved contact with objects or equipment and one was an exposure to a harmful substance or environment,” Pearre wrote.

Two of the fatalities that year were in Maryland, with one in the private industry and one in the public sector, according to Pearre. Four employees in total died working in solid waste collection in Maryland from 2013 through 2017, Pearre wrote.

Employees across trades have died for a number of reasons, but the most prevalent discovered through the U.S. Census, by far, was transportation incidents. There were 2,083 fatal work-related transportation incidents in 2016 and 2,077 in 2017, according to Census data. The next highest incidents were falls, slips, and trips, at 887 in 2017, Census data show.

Comparatively, police and sheriff’s patrol officers suffered 95 fatal occupational injuries in 2017, according to the CFOI.

J & J Inc. Trash Service declined to comment on the death of its employee. The company serves customers in Frederick and Montgomery counties, and is a family-owned business that has been operating since 1997, according to its website.

The crash reconstruction unit of the Sheriff’s Office is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to contact Master Deputy Mario DeVivio at 410-386-5900.

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