Eight truck drivers, five loggers, two nurses, a police officer, a fire chief and a flagger are among the 79 people who died from work-related causes who will be honored at this year’s Worker Memorial Day observance by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
The men and women range in age from 19 to 90 and did all types of work, including retail clerk, business owner, farmworker, chiropractor and arborist.
“Work-related deaths are devastating for the families and friends left behind. We should all be able to count on our loved ones returning home from work safely each day,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “There’s no greater legacy that we could create than preventing tragedies like these from ever being repeated.”
Spouses, children, parents and other friends and family of people who died from a work-related illness or injury are expected at Washington’s official Worker Memorial Day ceremony on April 27.
The state ceremony is one of many held in communities across the nation in April to remember those who died from work-related causes.
Falls happen in all types of jobs, and they remain a leading cause of worker deaths. Violent crime also impacts workplaces. Eight work-related deaths last year in Washington were homicides, the highest number since 2009. Overall, recent data shows construction, trucking and agriculture continue to be among the most hazardous jobs for Washington workers.
Workplace deaths in Washington are declining. In the early 2000s, job-related deaths often numbered more than 100 annually. Still, Sacks says even one work-related death is too many.
The 79 workers who will be remembered during the ceremony include those who died of incidents that happened in 2016, and people who passed away last year as a result of previous work-related illnesses or injuries. The ceremony also will honor 12 people who died before 2016 but whose deaths were not included in previous observances.
Governor Jay Inslee will take part in the ceremony, along with representatives of the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Self-Insurers Association. The observance is also open to the general public.
The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at L&I’s main building in Tumwater at 7273 Linderson Way S.W.
The names of the workers who died will be read, 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.
For a complete list of those being honored, visit www.WorkerMemorialDay.Lni.wa.gov.