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Identity & Community

Nine Pittsburgh-Area Workers Killed on the Job Honored on Worker Memorial Day

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

Since the 1970s, the AFL-CIO labor union has set April 28 as National Worker’s Memorial Day — a day to honor those who’ve lost their lives while on the job. There were nine work-related deaths in Allegheny County last year, but many more in the U.S.

“In the United States, there’s about 150 people that die every day on count of work-related injuries and illnesses,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

The nine in 2014 and 2015 is a drop; there were 11 work-related deaths in the area in 2013-2014, an improvement from the more than 30 deaths a year that was typical decades ago. Still, Shea said nine is too many. The ultimate goal is to ensure nobody’s life is at risk when they’re at work.

“When workers who we represent get up in the morning and go to work, we expect them at the end of their shift or the end of their day at work to go home and have dinner with their family,” said Shea.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other city officials were on hand for Worker Memorial Day, along with a few state lawmakers. Nine crosses, each bearing the name of someone who lost their life at work was set up and bells rung in their honor. Those honored include Omar Hodges, a Pittsburgh sanitation worker who was shot while on the job late last year and Legrant Blackwell, who was killed earlier this year while placing guardrails on U.S. Route 22 in Hanover Township.

Shea said that while progress has been made in workplace safety, more needs to be done until the annual death toll from work-related incidents is at zero.