Boston Mourns with Families Shattered by Dangerous Work

June 09, 2016

For Don Dumont, April 28th has a powerful new meaning. Last summer, his 24-year-old son went off to work at a construction site in Taunton; he never made it back home. Working about 40 feet off the ground on part of a structure’s framing, Nick Dumont fell and died a short time later. Nick was a young man with his whole life ahead of him, and Don found himself in a state of shock.

“I am devastated he is no longer with us,” said Don. “I will never get the opportunity to see him get married, have kids, I will miss the time we spent together doing things as a family.”

To ensure that Nick Dumont and the 62 others killed on the job in the state in 2015 will never be forgotten, this past April 28, 250 community members came together at the steps of the statehouse to commemorate Workers Memorial Day, an event organized by MassCOSH with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Greater Boston Labor Council, the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative, the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, and the Jewish Labor Committee.  Under a clear blue sky, one by one, family members addressed the gathering, choking up as they shared how much they missed their loved ones.

“Every year, we have families who attend our event and tell us how much it meant to them,” said Membership and Communications Coordinator Jeff Newton. “When you read these fatality figures, it’s so easy to see them as just numbers, but when a family member gets behind the podium to tell you about the last time they saw a person they loved, it really drives home the fact that real people are dying on the job – daughters, fathers, sons, grandfathers – these are loved ones who are never coming home because workplace safety is still not every employer’s primary concern.”

There was not a dry eye in the crowd when the seven-year-old daughter of Lawrence O’Leary read this poem to remember her father.

Early dawn starts the day
Miles to go he's on his way
Calloused hands, connecting beams
Spudding holes, fulfilling dreams
Welding, bolting, sweating blood

He belongs to a brotherhood
Only the best
Will pass the test
Walking where others will not go
Fear is one thing he will never show
Like an eagle perched
High on a tree
He climbs the column and dreams to be free
Free of the worries and stress of his life
Waiting to retire with his wife
He loves his trade
And softly I prayed
Keep him safe on the beam up high
God bless the Ironworkers in the sky

Lawrence O’Leary passed away due to injuries he sustained July 2015 after falling 40 feet while working on a Logan Airport parking garage.

At the event, MassCOSH also released its 2016 report, Dying for Work in Massachusetts: The Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces. The 31-page report details how workers like Dumont lost their lives on the job in 2015, as well as what must be done to keep workers safe.
The report highlights several findings, including:
·       Immigrant workers accounted for almost 20 percent of workers killed (11 of the 63), greater than their representation in the state.
·       Transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatal injuries in Massachusetts in 2015, contributing to the deaths of 23 workers. This was also the leading cause of fatal injuries in 2014.
·       Falls, slips, and trips were the next most common cause of fatal injuries, killing eighteen workers and comprising 33% of the year’s losses from fatal injuries. Eight of these fatal falls happened on construction jobsites. Two men fell while working to remove snow from rooftops during the winter storms of 2015.
·       Violence took six workers’ lives in 2015. A delivery man and a taxi driver were both robbed, shot, and killed while on the job, a doctor was shot and killed by the son of a patient, a sous chef was stabbed with a 12-inch sushi knife by a co-worker, a clerk was found shot in the parking lot of a cell phone store, and a young man participating in a job-ready program was shot and killed by a rival while shoveling snow.
Of particular concern, Dying for Work noted Massachusetts experienced a five-year high in its worker fatality rate. Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of deaths per 100,000 employees ranged from 1.0 to 1.7. The fatality rate in 2015 was 1.9 per 100,000 employees.
“What’s so disheartening about this report is that unsafe jobs are, on average, taking the life of one Massachusetts worker every week,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of MassCOSH. “That means every week, a family is reeling from the loss of a loved one and co-workers are traumatized after witnessing a death. Given that nearly all these fatalities were preventable, we urgently need to step up enforcement to deter employers from putting workers’ lives at risk.”

For members interested in aiding families affected by workplace injuries and death, please contact