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Massachusetts pays respect to those lost in workplace accidents

Recently, members from all walks of the Massachusetts workforce, including lawmakers and safety officials, gathered to pay their respects to those who have died on the job. In the past year, 60 workers have died as a result of workplace accidents. The Workers Memorial Day event is held every year to remember those who have died and to draw attention to the necessity of increasing workplace safety for all.

One of the main reasons that workers die, according to several attendees, is because the fines that OSHA levies for violations are not steep enough to warrant changes in the way the workplace owners and managers maintain safety standards. Many of the people who were at the event stated that businesses often choose to risks fines rather than invest in the needed equipment or enforce protocols to guard workers' safety. According to some reports, the fines average less than $10,000, and many contend that those fines are not a harsh enough penalty to motivate changes for improved safety conditions.

In addition to the workers who were killed in accidents, further statistics reveal that approximately 480 people have died as a result of diseases caused by their occupations. At least another 1,800 employees were newly diagnosed with work-related cancers and thousands more were seriously injured on the job. In addition, a spokesperson for a labor union suggests that the actual numbers of those injured or suffering with illnesses are higher than published reports indicate.

Massachusetts workers gather year after year to remember those lost and to support the families left behind. Many speakers have vowed to ensure that OSHA receives the funding needed to ensure that more workers in the future are protected from suffering workplace accidents. However, even when the proper safeguards are in place, workers may still suffer injuries and work-related illnesses. The workers' compensation insurance program is in place to assist those employees who have been hurt or sickened as a result of carrying out their daily work duties. Those who may have questions about the process of filing a claim, or may have had difficulty with one, do have resources within the state that are ready to provide information that may help them with the process.

Source: openmediaboston.org, "Workers Killed on the Job Commemorated, New Report Details Workplace Deaths", Jonathan Adams, April 29, 2014

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