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Remembering fallen New York workers

Every day, construction workers are injured on the job. Because of the dangers inherent in working at heights and around large equipment, the risks of serious injuries among New York City construction workers is high.

Far too many have lost their lives to injuries sustained on the job. Yesterday, there was a memorial service in Buffalo to honor fallen workers in our state.

There were ceremonies, prayers and memories shared at services across the nation on Workers Memorial Day.

In Buffalo, speakers recognized the work and sacrifice of every person hurt at any kind of job in the state. They also focused on a pair of workers who sacrificed their lives while on the job: a police officer -- hit by a bullet and paralyzed while responding to a call (she later died) -- and a woman who was shot and killed by her former boyfriend while she was at work.

But the attendees at the memorial also paid attention to those who have fallen from heights or been hurt in trenches, building collapses, crane accidents, been exposed to chemicals, been burned or have sustained any other type of injury while working.

One advocate for employee safety noted that every day, 13 workers die on the job in America. That means more than 4,500 dead across the nation annually, with about 125 of them here in New York State.

Unfortunately for all concerned, many of the deaths were preventable. But sometimes employers cut corners on safety equipment or training or both, and employees and employee families suffer. Sometimes fatalities are the result of employees failing to be cautious or failing to wear protective gear.

No matter what the reason for a fatality, it is in every case a tragedy for the worker and his or her family.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the construction industry was once again the nation's most dangerous. More than 730 workers died in the industry that year; 9.1 deaths per 100,000 full-time construction workers.

 

Source: WKBW, "Honoring Fallen Workers," April 28, 2013

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