Tumwater, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) - Six young people under the age of 25 — three loggers, a landscape worker, a farmworker, and a commercial diver — and an 80-year-old equipment operator are among the 89 people who died from work-related causes last year.
They will all be honored at Washington's official Worker Memorial Day ceremony on April 28. The ceremony is one of many held in communities across the nation this month to remember those who died.
Job-related injuries and deaths are a sobering reminder of the importance of workplace safety. Construction, logging, and jobs that require driving are among the most dangerous for workers, according to recent data. Still, workplace injuries and deaths happen across the spectrum of jobs, including painters, retail workers, farmworkers and cooks.
The number of workplace deaths is higher than in recent years, but lower than in the early 2000s when job-related deaths often numbered more than 100 annually. More than 20 of the workers honored this year died from lung or respiratory diseases after long-term exposure to asbestos, silica and other respiratory hazards.
The parents, spouses, children and other relatives of people who died from a work-related illness or injury last year are expected to attend the Department of Labor & Industries' (L&I) Worker Memorial Day ceremony. The observance is also open to their friends, colleagues, and the general public.
"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."
Governor Jay Inslee is scheduled to attend, as well as representatives of the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council, and the Washington Self-Insurers Association.
The ceremony includes a reading of the names of the workers who died, accompanied by bell ringers from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters. After the ceremony, the families are invited to ring the brass bell in the Worker Memorial garden on the grounds of the L&I building.