A number of lawmakers and union supporters gather at the state Capitol to commemorate Workers Memorial Day while using it as a platform to call for the strengthening of workplace safety. David Newby, former president of Wisconsin AFL-CIO, says in the most current year tracked nationally, 2011, 4,600 people in the U.S. died due to the workplace. That same year Wisconsin saw 89 workplace deaths and 74,400 workers injured.
Jim Schultz, board member for Wisconsin Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (WISCOSH), says the number is likely much higher as companies sometimes fail to report injuries or, as Newby points out, workers will not report injuries for fear of retaliation by their employers.
Newby says OSHA, the federal agency tasked with overseeing workplace safety, is “grossly underfunded” with its budget amounting to $4.17 per worker, per year in the entire U.S.
Congressman Mark Pocan and State Representative Chris Taylor were also on hand for the event which is calling for strengthening of OSHA, providing whistleblower protections for workers and holding employers accountable for injuries and deaths.
AUDIO: Reading the names of Wisconsin workers killed last year(4:06)