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worker-memorial-day-imageToday is Workers’ Memorial Day, an internationally recognized day to remember workers who have died or been injured, disabled, sickened, on the job.

Here in Massachusetts, 125 workers died on the job in just the two-year period of 2014-2015.

These workers were our family members, friends, and neighbors – and they were killed just trying to make a living. They died from motor vehicle crashes while transporting goods to our stores; from drowning while fishing and being injured by machinery while catching and processing the food we eat; and from falls while building our schools and repairing our homes.

In Massachusetts, falling to a lower level is routinely the single most common event resulting in worker deaths, with most fatal falls occurring in construction. For years, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has supported outreach efforts of the national fall prevention Safety Pays. Falls Cost. campaign and the campaign’s Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, an event for employers to talk with your employees about fall hazards and help to reinforce the importance of fall prevention.

If you’re an employer in construction, you can help start the conversation with your workers about fall prevention by using our falls brochures developed for residential contractors on ladder safety, scaffold safety, personal fall arrest systems, and myths about falls in construction (available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Haitian Creole).

The second most common event that results in worker deaths in Massachusetts were motor vehicle crashes. Do you employ workers that drive as part of their job?  Even if you have workers that only occasionally drive for work, you can help reduce the number of crashes involving your employees by developing a safe driving program.  We recently developed a fact sheet for employers on driving safety that includes information on what a safe driving program should include:

  • Train employees on the importance of being attentive while driving.
  • Remind employees that while behind the wheel, driving is their primary job.
  • Create work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and prevent drowsy driving.
  • Ban texting and hand-held phone use while driving for work (both work and personal phones).
  • Require employees to pull over in a safe location if they must text, look up directions, or make/answer a call.  This includes texts or calls from management.
  • Require the use of seat belts at all times by all vehicle occupants.
  • Zero tolerance for speeding and aggressive driving practices.
  • Procedures for reporting and investigating crashes and vehicle breakdowns.
  • Routine maintenance procedures for employer provided vehicles.

Please read our recently released report on the 356 workers who were fatally injured in Massachusetts between 2008-2013.  You can also order free materials on preventing falls in construction, driving safety, and other topics by visiting the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse.

Written By:


Occupational Fatality Projects Coordinator, Occupational Health Surveillance Program

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