L&I Ceremony Honoring 89 Workers Today

The Washington state agency's official Workers' Memorial Day ceremony honors the lives of people who died from work-related causes last year.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries' Workers' Memorial Day ceremony taking place April 28 will honor 89 state residents who died from work-related causes last year.

They include six people under the age of 25 — three loggers, a landscape worker, a farmworker, and a commercial diver — an 80-year-old equipment operator, and more than 20 people who died from lung or respiratory diseases after long-term exposure to asbestos, silica, and other respiratory hazards, according to L&I.

The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at L&I's main building in Tumwater, Wash. Parents, spouses, children and other relatives of people who died from a work-related injury or illness during 2014 are expected to attend. The ceremony is also open to friends, colleagues, and the general public.

The number of work-related deaths is higher than in recent years but lower than in the early 2000s, when job-related deaths often numbered more than 100 annually.

"Workplace deaths are tragic for everyone, and we know that they can be prevented," said L&I Director Joel Sacks. "The best way to honor those workers whose lives were cut short is to do everything we can to make sure people are well trained for their jobs, and that employers and workers have a shared commitment to safety in both words and actions."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to attend, as are representatives of the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council, and the Washington Self-Insurers Association. The names of the workers will be added to a Worker Memorial book that is displayed in the agency's lobby.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration also paid tribute to those who have died on the job and acknowledges the families, friends, and communities who have suffered from these losses. MIOSHA Deputy Director Bart Pickelman attended a memorial service in Cadillac that was hosted by the support group United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities. "I was very honored to host the vigil last night and be the voice of our loved ones who went to work and never came home," USMWF volunteer Danielle Dole said.

So far during 2015, Michigan has experienced four worker deaths. Occupational fatalities have been falling in the past 15 years, from 87 deaths in 1999 to 37 in 2014. "Michigan has made great strides in workplace safety and health, but our job is never finished," said MIOSHA Director Martha Yoder. "Today, we honor the lives of Michigan workers lost in workplace tragedies, and let each death serve as a reminder of the need to renew our commitment to protecting our most valuable asset: our workers."

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