AFL-CIO Honors 35 CT Workers Who Lost Their Lives on the Job at Workers Memorial Day Ceremony

HARTFORD – Local workers, elected officials, advocates, and students gathered on the north steps of the Connecticut State Capitol on Friday to observe Workers Memorial Day to commemorate the workers who died or suffered illness or injuries while on the job. They also spoke out against the Trump administration’s aggressive actions against workplace safety, calling them a dangerous slap in the face of working people.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 35 workers were killed from work-related injuries in Connecticut in 2017. An additional 37,600 workers suffered on-the-job injuries or illnesses.

Sal Luciano, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO noted that even one workplace related fatality is too many. "Even though 35 deaths on the job ranks Connecticut as having the fourth fewest job-related deaths in the country, it’s still too high," Luciano said. "These tragedies and deaths could have and should have been prevented. We should aim to not have any worker die simply because they went to work."

This year marks an especially urgent fight, as the Trump administration continues to roll back and weaken protections and rights for working people. Every year since taking office, President Trump has tried to slash the budget for job safety research and eliminate OSHA’s programs for training workers.

Under this administration, OSHA enforcement has been weakened and the number of OSHA inspectors is at its lowest level since the 1970s. As of 2017, Connecticut had 17 OSHA inspectors – 2 fewer than the previous year, or a 10% reduction. It would take the 17 OSHA inspectors over 180 years to inspect each workplace just once.

"Every worker in this state has the right to a safe and healthy workplace," said Ron McLellan, chair of the Connecticut AFL-CIO Health & Safety Committee. "Every employer in the state has a responsibility to train workers and provide them with the appropriate equipment to protect them from hazards on the job. Occupational health research and OSHA enforcement must be funded to have effective system accountability. If we have no capacity to enforce safety standards, workers die. We are here today to fight back against the erosion of protections for our workers."

The Connecticut AFL-CIO presented CONN-OSHA Director Kenneth Tucker and former chair of the Connecticut AFL-CIO Health & Safety Committee, Paul Dickes, with their health and safety award for a lifetime of work to further advance work safety in the state.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Luciano concluded his remarks by quoting the inscription on the Workers Memorial in Bushnell Park, "Let’s mourn for the dead, and continue to fight like hell for the living."

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View the AFL-CIO’s 2019 edition of “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” here: https://aflcio.org/dotj.