December 15, 2017

WA L&I: Worker Memorial Day a Somber Reminder of Workplace Safety Importance

Tumwater, WA – Fallen workers from all walks of life were remembered during a ceremony at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ (L&I) building in Tumwater on April 27.

Eight truck drivers, five loggers, two nurses, a police officer, a fire chief and a flagger are among the 79 people who died from work-related causes who were honored at this year’s Worker Memorial Day observance.

The men and women range in age from 19 to 90 and did all types of work, including retail clerk, business owner, farmworker, chiropractor and arborist.

“Work-related deaths are devastating for the families and friends left behind. We should all be able to count on our loved ones returning home from work safely each day,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “There’s no greater legacy that we could create than preventing tragedies like these from ever being repeated.”

Spouses, children, parents and other friends and family of people who died from a work-related illness or injury attended Washington’s official Worker Memorial Day ceremony on April 27.

The state ceremony is one of many held in communities across the nation in April to remember those who died from work-related causes.

Falls happen in all types of jobs, and they remain a leading cause of worker deaths. Violent crime also impacts workplaces. Eight work-related deaths last year were homicides, the highest number since 2009. Overall, recent data shows construction, trucking and agriculture continue to be among the most hazardous jobs for Washington workers.

Workplace deaths in Washington are declining. In the early 2000s job-related deaths often numbered more than 100 annually. Still, Director Sacks says even one work-related death is too many.

The 79 workers who were remembered during the ceremony include those who died of incidents that happened in 2016, and people who passed away last year as a result of previous work-related illnesses or injuries. The ceremony will also honor 12 people who died before 2016 but whose deaths were not included in previous observances.

Governor Jay Inslee took part in the ceremony, along with representatives of the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Self-Insurers Association, and the observance was open to the public.

The names of the workers who died were read and accompanied by bell ringers from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters. After the ceremony, the families were invited to ring the brass bell in the Worker Memorial garden on the grounds of the L&I building.

For a complete list of those honored, visit www.WorkerMemorialDay.Lni.wa.gov.

Editor’s Note: OSHA is also holding various events around the country for Workers’ Memorial Day.

Source: WA L&I

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