The 11 workers missing and presumed dead after an explosion and fire on an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico are just the latest to perish in a string of workplace tragedies that are giving added weight to this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day events on April 28.
Earlier this month, 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia and seven workers perished following an April 2 explosion at a Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, WA. Both facilities were repeatedly cited for serious and extensive workplace safety violations.
The IAM will hold a service on May 6 at the Workers’ Memorial at the Winpisinger Center in Southern Maryland to remember IAM members killed on the job. Among this year’s list of fallen IAM members are Murgappa Naiker of Local 2734, who fell to his death from a de-icing basket; Local 2777 member Brian Campbell, who was electrocuted on the job and Kevin Grocutt of Local 99, who died from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. This year, a total of 22 names will be inscribed on bricks and added to the hundreds that surround the lighthouse memorial at the Winpisinger Center.
“Fourteen workers lose their lives every day on the job,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Many more suffer a slow death from illnesses that result from exposure to hazardous conditions at work. This grim toll is a sad reflection on the state of workplace safety in our nation and a constant reminder of how much work remains to be done.”