Workers Memorial Day Vigil to Honor Victims of Workplace Fatalities and Call for Increased Protections
Houston – OSHA investigated 49 workplace fatalities in 2013 in the Houston area. That’s 49 fathers, mothers, sons, and grandparents whose lives were stolen from us, and 49 too many. This International Workers’ Memorial Day community organizations, workers and local officials will host the fourth annual vigil to honor the lives of fallen workers, and highlight five local occupational safety and health initiatives aimed at prevention. Injured workers and relatives of workers who have died will share their stories and call for stronger regulations and protections for all working people. The group will also release its first annual report mapping local fatalities, outlining most common causes of death, and highlight local proactive campaigns to improve protections and prevent deaths.
Houstonians will not soon nor easily forget the loss of four brave Houston firefighters who lost their lives on May 31st, 2013 in Southwest Houston[i], nor the images of construction worker Curtis Reissig’s close-call rescue from the blazing Montrose construction site[ii], nor the explosion of the West Fertilizer Co. Plant which killed 14 people and injured over 150. These tragic events and worker deaths affect not only families, but whole communities, the local workforce, responsible businesses and our economy.
In workplaces across Texas and the country workers laboring in construction, restaurants, agriculture, and many other industries continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled. A national report issued by the Council on Occupational Safety and Health identifies the unsafe conditions that take the lives of American workers, including:
· At least 4,383 deaths from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012 – a preliminary figure that is likely to increase when final data is released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of April.
· Tens of thousands of workers who die each year from long-term occupational illnesses. One estimate puts the toll at 53,000 deaths annually, causing untold harm and suffering – and costing the U.S. economy $45.5 billion a year.
· Nearly 700 deaths that can be prevented every year by timely adoption of a standard limiting workplace exposure to silica. This silent killer can cause silicosis, lung disease, cancer and other fatal conditions.
WHO: Families of individuals who have died on the job, injured workers, local safety and health advocates, and elected officials including State Senator Sylvia Garcia. Sponsoring organizations include the Fe y Justicia Worker Center, United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, the Communication Workers of America, OSHA Area South and Area North offices, Living Hope Wheelchair Association, the Harris County AFL-CIO, and ADOGUAH.
WHAT: Vigil to commemorate Workers Memorial Day, local report release and panel on local occupational safety and health initiatives
WHEN: Monday, April 28th - 6:00 pm (interviews available at 5:30pm)
WHERE: Communications Workers of America – 1730 Jefferson, Houston, TX 77003
Additional information about workplace fatalities available from a report by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health can be found here: http://www.coshnetwork.org/national-cosh-releases-2014-preventable-deaths-tragedy-workplace-fatalities