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Massachusetts workers honored in Boston ceremony

A recent ceremony at the State House honored Massachusetts workers who were killed by workplace injuries.

The Workers Memorial Day event honored the 32 Massachusetts workers who were victims of workplace diseases or injuries last year.

"The people who are affected most are the family members," said the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. "Their lives are pretty much destroyed from employers ignoring simple safety measures."

The 32 work-related deaths in 2012 was a drop from 58 fatalities the year before and 47 deaths in 2010.

Of those who died last year, 16 percent were in the construction industry and seven were firefighters who succumbed to heart disease or cancer the Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health said was work-related.

The organization's report, "Dying for Work in Massachusetts," says that for every worker killed in an accident at work, "10 more die from occupational disease."

The group estimates that 320 Massachusetts workers died last year of occupational diseases, and that 1,800 more were diagnosed in 2012 with cancer "caused by workplace exposure."

In addition, it estimates that last year, 50,000 workers in the commonwealth were seriously injured on the job.

Thursday's event included speeches, prayer and a moment of silence for the fallen workers.

One of those honored was a Brockton man, 42, killed when his fuel truck's brakes failed and pinned him against a fence. Another remembered was a Bridgewater mechanic, 42, who was struck and run over by a truck driven by a co-worker.

The coalition noted that the federal government's OSHA can levy fines for safety violations that result in a worker fatality. Last year, the fines in such cases averaged a mere $9,590.

Source: Patriot Ledger, "Those who died from workplace injuries honored at State House Read more: Those who died from workplace injuries honored at State House," April 26, 2013

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