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The Stories Behind the Statistics

Posted on Apr 27, 2014
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Dying at Work ReportOn April 15, 2013, 26-year-old temporary worker David Eleidjian never came home from his job at a Bay Point industrial manufacturing facility. The Iraq war veteran and recent father was caught and pulled into an unguarded spinning shaft, and died later at the hospital.

Four days later, in Santa Rosa, 21-year-old Hugo Tapia also left for his temp work position, at the glass company his father had worked at for decades. He too never returned. Only two weeks into the job, he was crushed by heavy, unsecured glass that fell off an A-frame rack.

In October, amid the tensions of a BART strike brought on in part by concerns over worker safety, BART employee Chris Sheppard and consultant Laurence Daniels were inspecting a dip in the tracks near the Walnut Creek station. They were struck and killed by a train on a maintenance run, driven by a student trainee likely being instructed in the event of a prolonged strike.

An official BART policy held the workers essentially responsible for their own protection, a policy that had already led to a 2008 death, already been cited by Cal/OSHA as insufficient, but had only been slightly modified in the years since.

These and other stories are told in Worksafe’s fourth annual report, “Dying at Work in California: The Hidden Stories Behind the Numbers,” released today, on Worker’s Memorial Day. Click here to download the report (PDF).

As in years past, the stories and statistics in the report are sobering reminders of the real human consequences of unabated hazards, the prioritizing of profit over safety and health, and the dangers workers face every day. They also serve to bear witness to the lives lost, allow us take stock of all that still needs to be done, and spur us to action as citizens, stakeholders, and fellow workers.

Please read and share these stories, and reflect on the recommendations for change provided throughout the report. Workplace safety and health really is a life and death issue, and we need to do everything we can to make sure all workers come home at the end of the day.

In the words of Mother Jones, so often invoked on Worker’s Memorial Day, we need to remember the dead and fight for the living! As we discover anew every year, the stakes are simply too high.
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