WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY PROVES NEED FOR STRONGER WORKER SAFETY LAWS

April 26, 2012

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Today, a Memorial was held in front of the State House in Boston, Massachusetts to remember the lives of 58 workers who died on the job in Massachusetts in 2011. Not only were those killed on the job remembered but many who were injured and became ill on the job due to unsafe or unhealthy work conditions.

The names of all 58 men and women who were killed on the job were read before a crowd of about 200 people followed by a moment of silence. Occupations of those who died differed from drivers, social workers, firefighters and construction workers among many others. It was also estimated that 580 workers died from an occupational disease.

One of the bills was to end temp worker abuse with the Temp Worker right to Know Bill, which requires employers to provide some basic information about a job and increases oversight by state enforcement agencies.

Another issue is safe alternatives to toxic chemicals which promotes safer, feasible alternative to toxic chemicals that are used in the workplace which is An Act for a Competitive Economy Through Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals (SB397, H1136). Another bill is putting a stop to workplace violence. This includes Stephanie's Law (S2006). Also, increasing the workers compensation benefits for the burial of a loved one from $4,000 to $8,000 (HB 1406).

Speakers included Steven Tolman, the president of Mass. AFL-CIO and Ed Kelly, the president of the Professional Firefighters of MA who remember firefighters who passed away in 2011. Among the 58 workers that died, 13 of those were firefighters. Both speakers urged for stricter laws for those who break OSHA regulations.

Kim Flynn, mother of Stephanie Moulton, gave an emotional speech about her daughter's death in the workplace. Stephanie who was a social worker was murdered by an individual she was trying to help. Susan Tousignant, President of SEIU Local 509, warned that Massachusetts social workers have inadequate funding and safeguards for its employees. Ms. Flynn continues to fight for "Stephanie's law" to be passed, which would require state social workers with an emergency "panic" button that would immediately call 911 when pushed.

Also, Tony Buckman, son of Stephen Buckman, gave his opinion and urged for stronger regulations so that no family would have to go through what his family has gone through. In 2006, Stephen Buckman was killed on the job by electrocution. Attorney Doug Sheff who introduced Tony Buckman, continued to urge that these incidents could have been prevented. Often simple safety measures are ignored in order to have money.

The memorial concluded with Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of MassCOSH discussing the need for change in laws regarding workplace safety and standing behind those trying to create new laws. MassCOSH and other agencies were looking for support of a few of the state bills. To learn more about these state bills visit the MassCOSH website.

Workers are injured and killed on the job often due to lack of safety and could often be preventable. If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, you should discuss your rights with an attorney.