Workers Fallen, but not Forgotten

July 01, 2013

According to the latest statistics, workers who lost their lives from occupational exposures and injuries in Massachusetts were nearly twice the number of people killed in car accidents in the Bay State. Yet, one would be hard pressed to find a billboard urging employers to protect workers from asbestos exposure, or a TV commercial telling management to provide a safety harness to employees working at heights. Perhaps if we did, more workers would be able to return from work safe and sound.

Instead, on April 25 at 12:00 PM, MassCOSH is hosting the state’s 25th Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) observance, in partnership with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Greater Boston Labor Council, remembering workers who lost their lives and drawing much needed attention to the need to improve workplace safety.

“Worker deaths, injuries and illnesses are all the more tragic because they could have been prevented through adequate safety measures and deterrence through sufficiently-funded enforcement,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of MassCOSH. “Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity for people all around the world to remember the human toll of unsafe conditions and rededicate ourselves to defending workers’ rights to safe, healthy jobs.”

Last year, over 100 labor advocates joined at the steps of the statehouse to mourn for the fellow workers lost on the job and make a visible stand against unsafe workplaces to for elected officials and others to see.

“All loss of life is tragic by nature, but there is something particularly tragic when a worker loses their life while simply trying to make a living; often performing dangerous work in order to provide for their family,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman. “Workers’ Memorial Day allows us to pause and remember these workers and reflect on how we can prevent such tragedies in the future.”

For those who cannot participate in WMD due to work or distance, MassCOSH has created Roses to Remember, another way to contribute to workplace safety and help end fatalities and injuries on the job. For every donation received, a rose will be placed at the base of our lost workers’ memorial at the State House gate in the donor’s name. This small sign of solidarity may not be as big as a highway advertisement, but its impact is undoubtedly more powerful. Together we can put an end to these needless workplace tragedies and keep families whole.