Environmental Health News

2016 Workers' Memorial Day at UW

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Rebecca Saldaña giving the keynote presentation

Rebecca Saldaña gave the keynote presentation at the Workers' Memorial Day event at the UW, which honors workers who died from job-related injuries or illnesses in Washington State.


Sarah Fish.

On April 27, 2016, our department helped organize a Workers’ Memorial Day at the University of Washington to honor workers who died from job-related injuries or illnesses in Washington State. Lead organizers in the event included our department’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee led by Grant Quiller, and Continuing Education Director Nancy Simcox. Other organizers and sponsors of the event included campus student groups, union leaders, UW Environmental Health and Safety, and the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies.

In Washington State, 76 workers died from job-related injuries or illnesses last year. Of these, 10 who died were from King County, and five of the deaths were from falls.

The annual event raises awareness about and strengthens our commitment to safe jobs and healthy lives for Washington workers. The ceremony included a formal reading of the names of the 10 fallen workers from King County and a presentation by Rebecca Saldaña. Saldaña is executive director of Puget Sound Sage, part of the Partnership for Working Families. You can view a copy of her keynote presentation.

The 2016 ceremony was dedicated to Karl Zapf and to other workers like him injured on the job. For the past five years, Karl played the bagpipes in the Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony. This year a work-related injury prevented his participation.

In remembrance of all who died and who were injured on the job, a special Worker’s Memorial Day orchard was planted at the University of Washington Farm with the help of UW Farm Manager, Sarah  Geurkink.  “As these trees grow, let our passion for creating safer and healthier workplaces grow along with them,” said graduate student Anika Larson at the event.

SEIU Local 925, who helps organize and sponsor the event, initiated a Workers’ Memorial Day Fund in honor of SEIU organizer, Dornie MacKenzie, who died this year.  “Dornie was instrumental in planning the first UW Workers’ Memorial Day event five years ago,” said her colleague Caitlin Benstead. “She was very committed and passionate about sharing its significance with our campus community.”

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