More than 60 fallen Washington workers will be remembered by their families and friends and honored by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) at an April 26 memorial ceremony in Tumwater.
Though the number of annual work-related fatalities has declined in recent years, there are still far too many each year. Nearly all are preventable. The Worker Memorial Day ceremony will recognize the 65 work-related deaths in our state last year.
Governor Jay Inslee is scheduled to speak at the ceremony. Families and friends of fallen workers and the public are invited.
“We feel a sense of tragedy as each name is read aloud during the ceremony, and we’re reminded of the families and friends left behind,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “We have to do better. The best way to honor these fallen workers is to ensure that employers and workers have the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe and healthy.”
The people who died on the job in 2017 range in age from 20 to 87. They are men and women from all walks of life, and they worked in fields including retail, trucking, construction, accounting, fishing, and dairy worker. They were brothers and fathers, sisters and mothers — an avid hunter, a gardener who canned pickles, a ballet dancer, a snowboarder, a cook. People who contributed to their communities and are deeply missed.
Four died as a result of violence in the workplace and six succumbed after years-long battles with work-related illnesses. As always, falls were a leading cause of workers’ deaths in 2017. They are sudden and preventable with simple precautions.
The Worker Memorial Day Ceremony begins at the L&I headquarters Auditorium at 2 p.m. April 26. During the event, each worker’s name will be read accompanied by bell ringers from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters. After the formal ceremony, families are invited to the Worker Memorial Garden outside to ring the memorial bell and say a few words about their loved ones.
Along with Gov. Inslee, representatives from the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington Self-Insurers Association and Kids Chance will take part in the ceremony.
This is one of many ceremonies honoring fallen workers across the nation. L&I has hosted this event for more than two decades.