Wyoming's Fourth Annual Workers' Memorial Day a Success

On Tuesday April 28th, Lawyers and Advocates for Wyoming and SAFER Director Mark Aronowitz welcomed families, State officials, and Governor Matt Mead to Wyoming’s fourth annual Workers’ Memorial Day, at the State Capitol in Cheyenne. Workers’ Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have died on the job, acknowledge the suffering experienced by their families and communities, and recommit to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces.

Governor Mead spoke powerfully, declaring “from personal experience, on June 21, 1996 … I got the call that my mom was killed in a workplace fatality,” he said in reference to when his mother, Mary Mead, was killed after being thrown from her horse while working cattle near the family’s ranch. “So I know when a worker dies and won’t be returning from work ever again that it’s a great tragedy for that person, for his or her family, for the community and for our state.”

The event also featured comments from Meredith Towle, Wyoming’s newly hired occupational epidemiologist, Mary Jane Collins, whose grandson Brett, 20, was killed in August of 2012, and House Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne, who noted that hundreds of workers would likely be involved in the impending Capitol renovation project and that we all have a duty to improve workplace safety and provide safe workplaces.

From 1992-2013, Wyoming averaged 34 occupational fatalities per year for an estimated total of 748 workplace fatalities. There are hundreds of families across the State and tens of thousands of families across the country who have lost loved ones in frequently preventable workplace incidents. Wyoming experienced 26 workplace fatalities in 2013 however; early reports indicate that over 30 Wyoming workers passed away in 2014. We firmly agree with Governor Mead’s statement that this recent upward trend is unacceptable.

These sobering figures further prove what we already know, that much work remains to be done. Dedicated organizations such as L.A.W./SAFER and event co-sponsors the Equality State Policy Center, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association and the Wyoming AFL-CIO are committed to working with citizens and State leaders toward building a safer Wyoming.

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