Ceremony Set to Remember 65 Who Died While Working in 2015

APRIL 28, 2016
Worcester Business Journal Online

A ceremony is planned for noon Thursday outside the State House to remember those who died or were injured while working in 2015, and to call for changes aimed at creating safer conditions on job sites.

According to the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, 63 Massachusetts workers died on the job last year and the number rises to 630, based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates, when deaths caused by occupational injuries and illnesses are included.
The labor union and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health plan to use the event to discuss their just-released report, “2016: Dying for Work in Massachusetts,” which lists the individuals who died working last year and delves into some of their stories.

Transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatal injuries, contributing to the deaths of 23 workers, according to the report. Six workers were murdered by armed attackers on the job last year, with occupations ranging from doctor to sous chef. And the average fine assessed to an employer with OSHA violations resulting in the death of a worker was $18,513, according to the report.
The report recommends halting Gov. Charlie Baker’s order mandating a review of state regulations due to concerns about rolling back rules intended to exceed federal requirements. The report also recommends bills to “hold employers responsible for their subcontracted and temporary workers,” increasing workers’ compensation benefits and streamlining procedures, and providing resources to implement a new state employee health and safety law.

Eleven workers who died on the job last year were immigrants, two from El Salvador and one each from Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, China, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Italy and Portugal, the report said. Their deaths accounted for 20 percent of all occupational fatalities.
Don Dumont, whose son Nick was killed in a construction incident in Taunton, plans to attend Thursday’s ceremony, as well as MetroWest Worker Center Executive Director Diego Low, wrongful death attorney Doug Sheff, and Greater Boston Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Richard Rogers and Jay Colbert, 3rd District Vice President, International Association of Fire Fighters.