April 28, 2017
AWB joins governor, labor at Worker Memorial Day
The 2017 Worker Memorial Day ceremony at the state's Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is a collaboration between the state's employers, organized labor, and government regulators -- just as the job of ensuring safe workplaces can't be the responsibility of any one of those groups alone, said Joel Sacks, director of L&I.
"Washington has and must have a cooperative effort to creating safer workplaces," Sacks said.
Gov. Jay Inslee, on behalf of the state's 7 million residents, expressed his condolences to dozens of family members in attendance at the ceremony. He noted that Washington has one of the best workplace safety records in the nation, but that even one workplace-related death is too many.
The governor also said that even in their pain, family members are helping Washington improve worker safety. He noted the death of Cody Meyer, a 23-year-old traffic flagger, who was hit and killed by a distracted driver using a cell phone. That tragic loss was part of the reason that this year's Legislature passed a distracted driving law that will help prevent those kinds of deaths in the future, Inslee said. Meyer's mother was one of those who testified in support of the bill.
"They have not just suffered, they have helped Washington move forward," Inslee said.
Because so many workplace injuries and deaths are caused by falls, Inslee noted the timeliness of the upcoming National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls, and said he was pleased to see so much interest and employer participation in the upcoming L&I Construction Safety Day on May 12 in Puyallup.
Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director for employment law, said that after more than 25 years of involvement with workplace safety and health issues, he has learned one important fact: "No matter how many rules we have, it comes down to one thing – a commitment by everyone, both employers and employees, to safety."
He also spoke of the need to know and honor our co-workers while we have the chance, and especially those who are now gone.
"If we want to honor those whose names we read today, get to know their stories. They are loved. They were fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends, coworkers – they were family. We honor them by not forgetting them."
In closing the memorial, Cody Arledge, president of Kids' Chance of Washington, reminded families that this scholarship program helps the families of those killed or severely injured on the job.
Since it was created just over 15 years ago, Kids' Chance has provided more than 88 scholarships totaling more than $300,000.
Learn more about this scholarship program at Kids' Chance of Washington.