Annual Indiana workers' memorial

Workers Memorial Day in Indiana will honor the dozens in the state killed on the job. The construction industry accounts for almost one in five of those workplace deaths. Photo credit: Michael Connors/morguefile.

By Mary Kuhlman

Families, along with labor and community leaders, will gather at ceremonies around the state today to honor the memories of Indiana workers who lost their lives on the job. It's Worker's Memorial Day, which is held in recognition of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, first passed in 1970.

President of the White River Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Jackie Yenna says better safety policies are helping to reduce the number of workplace fatalities.

"We see a drop in it, but it's not significantly fast enough, I guess, as there's always dangers on the job - and one worker dying is one too many," he said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 115 fatal occupational injuries in Indiana in 2012.

An estimated 5000 workers die on the job in the U.S. each year, and tens of thousands more die from illnesses they contracted at work. The construction industry leads the statistics: it accounts for 19 percent of the fatalities, with falls as the leading cause.

At a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse at 11 a.m., the names of those who lost their lives on the job in 2013 will be read aloud, and in Bloomington, a memorial will be held at Building and Trades Park. Yenna says they will dedicate a new interpretive sign alongside a labor-themed mural.

"It shows workers and different tools that they use, different forms of work," he said. "We've had a sign made, interpretive sign that tells the history of the Building and Trades Park and workers involved in the community, and what they've done and their help with the park."

Similar ceremonies will be held today in Lafayette and South Bend.

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