Workers Memorial Day reflects on the fallen, and safety challenges of today
Gathered by the PEF monument on a sunny but windy morning April 28, PEF leaders and staff followed a tradition to remember those who lost their lives on the job.
PEF Region 8 Coordinator Michael Blue officiated at the annual Workers Memorial Day event, which marked the 46th anniversary of the effective date of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Eileen Franco, director of the Division of Occupational Health and Safety at the state Department of Labor, said, “Today we remember the people who went to work and did not return home. Every death leaves a lasting impression. These people died at work. They died trying to make a living and providing for their families.”
PEF Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Hintz echoed those remarks, and mentioned how the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, and how that tragic incident spurred solidarity and the fight for safe working conditions.
“The movement to improve working conditions is nothing new,” Hintz said. “It is an ongoing battle for many years, and will continue. While we think about the physical hazards in our workplaces, we have to remember other issues as well. For a healthy environment, we have to make sure our workplaces are free of bullying, intimidation and free of harassment. These are important issues of today, and we need to pursue and continue to make sure they are addressed.”
Hintz then asked for a moment of silence, to reflect upon how swift and fragile life can be and to remember all those who never returned home from work. — Story and photos by Deborah A. Miles