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18 Idahoans Honored for Workers Memorial Day

GRAPHIC: Today is Workers Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their lives on the job. In Idaho, 18 people died at work in 2012. Graphic courtesy of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
GRAPHIC: Today is Workers Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their lives on the job. In Idaho, 18 people died at work in 2012. Graphic courtesy of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
April 28, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - The list is 18 names long for Workers Memorial Day in Idaho today. The annual observance honors those who lost their lives on the job, as well as those who suffered serious injuries.

Jessica Martinez, deputy director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, makes the case that almost every death could have been prevented.

"In workplaces across this country, workers continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled," Martinez said. "Hazards like silica, and explosion hazards like combustible dust."

Martinez's group has issued a report showing that more than 4,300 people died nationwide because of a traumatic injury at work, based on 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These deaths are just part of the story, however, according to Martinez.

"Each year, about 50,000 workers die from occupational diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals and other health hazards," she explained. "That's a total of about 150 workers dying each and every day."

Safety systems, equipment, training and enforcement all could save lives, she added. Construction is listed as the most dangerous industry in the report, with Latino workers suffering the highest death rates.

The report, "Preventable Deaths," is available at www.coshnetwork.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID