DOL Supports Families of Fallen Workers on Workers’ Memorial Day

DOL Supports Families of Fallen Workers on Workers’ Memorial Day

Tonya Malley Ford was appointed OSHA’s first national family liaison in 2023.

In honor of Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is supporting families affected by work-related incidents. Tonya Malley Ford—whose uncle lost his life in a workplace incident—has become a national advocate for worker safety and now serves as OSHA’s first national family liaison.

Ford's journey began fifteen years ago when her uncle, Robert Fitch, fell from a belt-operated manlift device while working at an agricultural company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Following her uncle's death, Ford turned her family's grief into a mission to honor workers who never returned home and raise awareness about workplace safety.

With the help of local unions, Ford organized an annual Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony in Lincoln and, over the past 13 years, united Nebraska families to remember fallen workers. She has also led efforts to host free awareness conferences as well as educate employers, workers and the public about the importance of workplace safety.

In 2023, OSHA appointed Ford as the nation's first National Family Liaison. Her role aims to provide support, guidance and resources to families grappling with the loss of a loved one in the aftermath of a workplace incident, illness or disease.

“My position is to help those left behind, whether that be a listening ear or helping them find answers to the many questions one has after such a loss,” Ford said in a statement. “Working for OSHA allows me to connect with more families across the country in their time of need with the wish that one day, my position will no longer be needed because every worker will go home safe at the end of the day.”

Nebraska's Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony will take place at the state capitol, while OSHA will host events in Washington, D.C. More information on 2024 events led by OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is on the OSHA website.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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