weekly toll

As I summarized last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its annual Census on Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2021. As I summarized, 5,290 workers died in the job in 2021, up almost 9% from 2020. That’s one worker every 101 minutes, over 4 every day, over 100 workers every week. That would come to a jumbo jet crashing every month — tragedies this nation would never stand for.

And these numbers are only for “occupational injuries” — falling off a roof, getting crushed in a trench, dying in a traffic incident, or getting shot in a robbery. The don’t count the estimated 100,000 workers estimated to die every year of an occupational disease — some from chemical exposures years or decades before, some from COVID-19 last acquired last month on the job.

But the numbers reported by CFOI are just statistics, just numbers, raw data points — useful, but bloodless. As occupational health pioneer Irving Selikoff once explained,  “Statistics are people with the tears wiped away.”

“Statistics are people with the tears wiped away.” — Irving Selikoff

Below is yet another edition of the regular “Weekly Toll” where I try to put names on the otherwise forgotten workers who die every week on the job.  It’s a somewhat time-consuming, always depressing effort. And frustrating, as I’m almost never able to capture more than a quarter of the fatalities each week, and many of those are from news reports that have no names of the dead. And the preventable tragedies repeat with depressing regularity — trench collapses, falls, unguarded machinery…. It’s like we never learn.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother.  I obviously can’t put the tears back.

But maybe I can give them names, some recognition, some legacy to those who aren’t coming home from work at the end of the shift..

Over the almost 20 years — off and on — that I’ve been doing this, I’ve been contacted by families and friends who have seen their loved ones’ names — and in the other pages of Confined Space, some context for their deaths, some recognition that most were preventable and that their deaths might provide a lesson for others.  There are now organizations, like ​United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF), a national grassroots, family based, non-profit organization that offers support, guidance and resources to families that have been affected by work-related incidents, diseases and illnesses. (Donate)

So we beat on.  Another week…


Last week: Two more trench collapses, falls, traffic incidents, shootings, machinery.  Just a few of the ways workers died last week….On average, over 100 workers are killed every week in the United States due to traumatic injuries suffered at work. Over 20 times as many die from occupational diseases, many due to exposure to hazardous substances many years before they died, or from COVID-19 acquired at work. The few narratives below (gathered from almost 100 Google News searches) do not come close to capturing the full toll that work takes on the working people of this country — even in normal years, much less during the COVID pandemic. Nevertheless the accounts below gave you a taste of the preventable carnage occurring in workplaces across the country every day.

1 person dead after construction site accident in Greenwood

GREENWOOD, Ind. — One person is dead after an accident at a construction site Friday afternoon in Greenwood. Police said the accident happened near Orchard Lane and Madison Avenue around 3 p.m. Investigators believe the worker died after a concrete box fell from a crane and pinned the worker. Medics transported the worker to the hospital where he later died. The Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the man as Larry Stinson, 53, of Indianapolis.

Pizza delivery driver is killed after he’s sent to vacant apartment

St. Louis, MO — A pizza delivery driver was about to complete his delivery to a Missouri apartment when he was shot multiple times, police said. The driver called 911 at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, reporting that he was shot and not going to survive, according to a probable cause statement from the St. Louis County Police Department. Responding officers found Hershel Perkins, 60, in a parking lot with gunshot wounds, police said. The St. Louis man was pronounced dead at the scene. A homicide investigation found that Wayea Hallowanger, 20, ordered pizza to a vacant apartment in Black Jack, authorities said. Following his arrest, the Florissant man admitted to placing the order with a local pizza chain and being at the vacant apartment where the driver was killed.

OSHA: Safety precautions were insufficient at site where worker died in Buffalo Grove trench collapse

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — The family of a 27-year-old Elmwood Park man was grieving Tuesday, a day after the sewer repair worker was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed on top of him in Buffalo Grove. As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Tuesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into the circumstances. The trench in a front lawn in the 1000 block of Aspen Drive in Buffalo Grove was covered up Tuesday. Unfortunately, OSHA says the site did not appear to have the necessary safety precautions to keep the tragic accident Monday from happening. Nikodem Zaremba died Monday evening after being pulled from the trench by first responders. The rescuers worked for a frantic few hours to rescue Zaremba, but he did not make it. Zaremba’s former boss said he worked as a trained technician at a plumbing company in Carol Stream before leaving this summer.

Landslide Kills One In Industrial Accident In Hells Canyon

Adams County, ID – On December 10, 2022, at approximately 9:15 a.m., Adams County Dispatch received a priority 911 call regarding an industrial accident in Hells Canyon. According to callers, contract employees working on securing a rock shelf on the Idaho Power road from Oxbow to Hells Canyon Dam experienced a significant landslide, sending tons of rock and debris onto the work crew and equipment below. Callers notified dispatch that one employee had sustained significant injury. Adams County and Baker County deputies arrived at the scene and found that one of the workers was suspended in the air with a boom and bucket to conduct his work. The employee, identified as Stacey Keen (39) of Tillamook, OR, had been struck by multiple pieces of rock and debris and was killed as a result. Following the accident, the area around the rock slide was unstable and unsafe. As a result, deputies used boats to rescue and transport stranded workers around the rock slide, via the reservoir. Idaho Power geologists and OSHA responded to the area to assess the scene and the potential for additional debris slides. Once the slide area was deemed stable enough, deputies brought in heavy equipment to remove the boom and bucket from the immediate area, and first responders and the Adams County Coroner were able to safely recover Keen.

Worker killed in industrial accident at Cardinal Glass in Church Hill

Church Hill, TN — An employee of a subcontractor at the Cardinal Glass plant was killed in an industrial accident Wednesday morning at the Cardinal Glass plant in Church Hill. At 8:04 a.m. Wednesday first responders were dispatched to the Cardinal Glass Plant at 700 Cardinal Way in Church Hill. According to Hawkins County Central Dispatch radio communications an employee had been crushed by equipment. The man who was killed in an industrial accident on Dec. 14 at the Cardinal Glass Plant in Church Hill has been identified as 22-year-old Tyler James Rogers of Bulls Gap.

Firefighter suffers fatal injuries at Brooklyn firehouse: ‘Firefighting was in his bones’

NEW YORK, NY – A 21-year FDNY veteran will not survive after he was injured Monday preparing for a drill at his firehouse in Brooklyn. Officials say 47-year-old firefighter William Moon II fell around 20 feet and suffered a serious head injury while preparing for a drill inside his firehouse, Rescue Company 2, located at 1815 Sterling Place. Moon was treated for his injuries by his fellow firefighters and rushed to Kings County Hospital in critical condition.

1 utility worker dead after being hit by car on SR-4 in Huber Heights

HUBER HEIGHTS, OH — One utility company worker is confirmed to be dead after being hit by a car on State Route 4 in Huber Heights Sunday morning, according to a spokesperson for Huber Heights Police. Police and medics were called to report of a person hit by a car on Northbound SR-4 near Chambersburg Road around 7:05 a.m. Dispatchers said they received a call stating that a woman had hit a person who was in the middle of the road. The person hit was transported by medics to Miami Valley Hospital where they were later pronounced dead. The person was confirmed to be pulling cable lines that were to be installed, a spokesperson told News Center 7. The 61-year-old man killed was identified as Garth Haselton from Miami County, according to Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger.

Employee dies after work-related accident involving heavy machinery in Terrell

TERRELL, Texas — A Walmart Distribution Center employee was tragically killed overnight after a work-related accident involving heavy machinery in Terrell. At approximately 11:10 p.m., on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the Terrell Fire Department and CareFlite responded to a 911 call at the Walmart Distribution Center located at 591 Apache Trail for an employee who reportedly fell, Terrell Fire Department Chief Shane LeCroy tells inForney.com in response to a request for additional information. Terrell firefighters arrived a short time later, made contact with the injured employee, assessed the patient for injuries, and began treatment, according to LeCroy. The patient was then transported by CareFlite to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. A person familiar with the incident says the employee was injured while operating heavy machinery at the distribution center. The employee was pronounced deceased at the hospital. The man’s name or age were not publicly released.

Maury Co. deputy killed in crash

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WSMV) – A Maury County deputy died and “became someone’s hero” Monday, Sheriff Bucky Rowland said, after he was involved in a crash while handling traffic duty nearby road construction. The crash happened Monday afternoon on Highway 43 near Williamsport Pike. An SUV crashed into the back of Maury County patrol vehicle. The crashed killed Reserve Deputy Brad Miller, 68, who had served in law enforcement for more than 19 years.

Construction worker dies after trench collapse in Arkansas

JONESBORO, Ark. – A construction site worker in Arkansas died Monday afternoon after being buried beneath several feet of dirt in a trench collapse. According to the Jonesboro Police Department, crews were building a trench around 1 p.m. Dec. 12 when a wall collapsed onto two workers, trapping them underneath. Crews were able to rescue one of the workers, who was taken to the hospital. They were also eventually able to recover the body of another worker who had died. A police report identified 30-year-old Austin Neth, of Walnut Ridge, as the man who died and 39-year-old Matt Buckley, of Maynard, as the man hospitalized with injuries.

Police chief killed by truck after stopping to recover animal remains, Virginia police say

BRODNAX, V.A.  — Virginia State Police said the police chief for Brodnax, a town in Mecklenburg County, has died after being hit by a pickup truck Friday night. State police said Brodnax Police Chief Joe Carey had pulled off to the right side of the road on the 200 block of Piney Pond Road and Route 58 to recover the remains of an animal that had been hit in the roadway. As he came back to the side of the highway, a Ford F-150 pickup truck heading eastbound was unable to avoid hitting him, according to a news release from Virginia State Police. The release said Chief Carey was taken to a hospital in South Hill, where he died from injuries. According to investigators, the chief’s police lights were activated while his vehicle was parked on the side of the highway.

Baton Rouge firefighter dies after experiencing medical emergency on duty

BATON ROUGE, La  — A Baton Rouge firefighter died on Saturday, Dec. 17 while on duty. According to the Baton Rouge Fire Department, Captain Walker L. Hill died after experiencing a medical emergency. Hill has been a member of the BRFD since 1998 and has been promoted to Captain in 2017. During his service, he has received four life-saving awards, two fire service excellence citations, and helped deliver a baby.

Construction worker killed in fall from Borough Park building

BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn, NY — A construction worker fell to his death working at a building in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. The worker, in his 50s, fell from 3rd-floor scaffolding outside the 45th Street building just after 1 p.m. He was pronounced dead at Maimonides Medical Center.

Officials announce name of Cumberland Co. deputy killed after getting hit by vehicle

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has announced that Deputy Oscar Yovani Bolanos-Anavisca Jr. died after getting hit by a vehicle on Dec. 16. According to the Cumberland County Sheriff Facebook, he was walking when he was hit by a vehicle at 2:46 a.m. He was taken via ambulance to the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and later died from his injuries. The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and N.C. State Highway Patrol are investigating the incident.

Northwestern Ohio deputy killed in Pickaway County crash

PICKAWAY COUNTY, Ohio — A northwestern Ohio deputy was killed in a crash in Pickaway County on Thursday. The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office said dispatch received a call about a crash at the intersection of state Route 56 and state Route 104. A man driving a 2010 Dodge Ram was traveling eastbound on Route 56 around 11 a.m. At the same time, Wyandot County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Kin was driving north on Route 104 with an inmate in the vehicle. The two vehicles crashed at the intersection of Routes 56 and 104, just west of Circleville. Deputy Kin was flown to Grant Medical Center where he died from his injuries.

Father of 4 killed when tractor-trailer crashed off overpass on Route 8 in Torrington

Torrington, CT — Police identified the tractor-trailer driver killed after his truck crashed off of an overpass over Route 8 in Torrington on Thursday morning. Mahamadou Keita, 44, of Darby, Pennsylvania, sustained life-threatening injuries from the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene, the Torrington Police Department said Friday morning. Keita is survived by his wife and four children, police said.

Tow truck driver killed in hit-and-run collision

Goldthwaite. Texas –A Buchanan Dam man with ties to Lampasas was killed Saturday in what authorities have said was a hit-and-run crash near Goldthwaite. Texas DPS authorities said 61-year-old Patrick Morin of Buchanan Dam was killed by a passing vehicle while operating his tow truck on U.S. 183 near Goldthwaite. Texas DPS Sgt. Bryan Washko said troopers responded to a report of a fatal hit-and-run crash

Man Killed in I-95 Crash on Friday Morning

Providence, RI — On Friday at approximately 1 am, members of the State Police, Providence Police, Providence Fire and Rescue, Amtrack Police, Department of Environmental Management, and Department of Transportation responded to a motor vehicle accident on Route 95 North, north of the Route 10 overpass in Providence. According to the State Police, a tractor-trailer truck struck a disabled motor vehicle in the high-speed lane, which then caused it to a rollover blocking the two right lanes of the highway. The operator of the tractor-trailer was ejected and died as a result of his injuries. He was later identified as Adrian Morales, age 45, of Yuma, Arizona.

Bronx construction worker dies on the job at work site

New York, NY — A Bronx construction worker was killed in a jobsite incident on Thursday morning, police reported. Authorities are investigating the dig site located on 1861 Carter Ave. in Mount Hope after an identified man was struck and killed by a digger at around 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 15. The worker’s body, covered in a blood-covered white sheet, could be observed lying beside a large machine as NYPD officers shutdown construction. Fire Department sources said the worker went into cardiac arrest after being struck, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The exact cause of his death remains under investigation, and police have yet to release his identity. “It is really sad. Those machines are so dangerous. It sucks,” a neighbor told NewYork Metro as they watched the flashing lights from the emergency vehicles. Workers were in the process of erecting a new affordable housing apartment building at the site, which is slated to put a roof over the heads of those who have lived with homelessness and mental illness. Linden Samuel, 57, was working at the site on Thursday around 11:30 a.m. on Carter Ave. near E. 176th in Tremont when he was fatally struck by an excavator bucket, cops said.

Victims identified in fiery fatal Wauwatosa crash

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — The identities of the three people killed Tuesday in a crash at Mayfair Road and Wisconsin Avenue in Wauwatosa have been released by the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office. A city of Milwaukee Department of Public Works truck slammed into several cars stopped at a traffic light. The victims include 85-year-old Paul Woida from Milwaukee, 40-year-old Amy Miller from Cedarburg and 64-year-old Denise Durrah that worked for Milwaukee DPW.

Stuttgart officer killed in overnight shooting; suspect dead

Stuttgart, AR — New details are available in the armed standoff that resulted in the death of a Stuttgart police officer. Police now say that an Arkansas State Trooper was also wounded as law enforcement authorities attempted to arrest a Stone County man south of Stuttgart. A vehicle pursuit by Stuttgart Police that began around 11 p.m. Wednesday ended south of the city near Rieger Road when the suspect, identified as Jacob Cole Barnes, 31, of Mountain View, abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot, according to a statement issued by SPD. During the foot pursuit, Barnes is believed to have fired on two Stuttgart officers, resulting in the death of Sergeant Donald Scoby, 45, who was in foot pursuit of the suspect.

Two Mississippi police officers killed after 30-minute talk

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — Two police officers in coastal Mississippi were shot and killed early Wednesday by a woman who they had talked to for nearly 30 minutes in a motel parking lot, authorities said. The woman also died. Amy Anderson, 43, was sitting in a parked SUV with a female child when the officers were sent to the parking lot of a Motel 6 in Bay St. Louis around 4:30 a.m. on a welfare check, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety said in a statement. Bay St. Louis Police Sgt. Steven Robin and officer Branden Estorffe spoke to Anderson for nearly a half-hour before she fired at them while sitting in the vehicle, investigators said. During the conversation, the officers called for Child Protection Services, the police statement said. Robin, 34, died in the parking lot. Estorffe, 23, died a short time later at the hospital, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents said.

Gwinnett County correctional officer shot, killed at work; suspect on the run

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Police are searching for the shooter who killed a Gwinnett County corrections officer Tuesday morning. The shooting happened around 6:20 a.m. outside the Gwinnett County Correctional Center on Hi Hope Road near Swanson Drive. Police identified the victim as 59-year-old Scott Riner, who worked at the center for 10 years. Investigators believe the suspect and Riner got into a confrontation before the shooting. Riner’s co-workers found him shot in the parking lot, according to police. Police said at this time they do not have a description of the suspect but did release a surveillance photo of who they are looking for. They later released surveillance footage of the suspect walking away.

Employee shot, killed at automotive supplier plant in Highland Park, police say

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. – An employee was shot and killed Wednesday at an automotive supplier plant in Highland Park, police said. The incident happened Wednesday morning (Dec. 14) at the Faurecia plant in the 13000 block of Oakland Park Boulevard in Highland Park. Faurecia is an automotive supplier and the plant is UAW-represented. Officials said there was some kind of fight that led to shots being fired. An employee was struck and killed. Highland Park police went to the scene and looked at a battered vehicle in the parking lot. The officer in charge was investigating inside the building at the time. The plant wasn’t operating during the investigation, as workers were outside trying to find out what had happened.

Plow truck driver killed following crash in Coxsackie

COXSACKIE, NY — A Catskill man has died after a fatal crash while plowing a parking lot. According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, 50-year-old Lamont B. Jackson was plowing the parking lot at Essendant Distribution Center on 9W in Coxsackie at around midnight. Investigators say Jackson’s plow collided with a stationary box trailer and caught fire. Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene. The sheriff’s office says the investigation is ongoing.

One thought on “Empty Chairs for the Holidays: The Weekly Toll”
  1. May the work that I have done speak for me.
    May the work that I have done speak for me.
    If I fall short of my goal, someone else will take a hold.
    May the work that I have done speak for me.
    — Memorial song for workers who have died.

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