Weekly Toll

Last Week was Workers Memorial Day. Workers were killed in yet another trench collapse, petroleum plant explosion, falls, shootings, tree cutting and vehicle incidents. On average, over 100 workers are killed every week in the United States due to traumatic injuries suffered at work. More than 20 times as many die from occupational diseases, many due to exposure to hazardous substances many years before they died. 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. Nevertheless the accounts below gave you a taste of the preventable carnage occurring in workplaces across the country every day.

Worker dies after trench collapse while working underground

EUTAW, Ala.  – A man died after a trench collapse while working underground in an Alabama subdivision. Authorities said Tony Rice, a Eutaw city worker, was part of a crew doing sewer work when the trench collapsed around him and two others around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Two other city employees were able to escape, but Rice couldn’t get out. Employees of the Tuscaloosa Water and Sewer Department were on the scene to help pump water out when the trench began filling with water and sewage. Rice’s body was finally recovered around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday. “The City of Eutaw is saddened at the loss of a hard worker and great friend. Tony Rice was a dedicated worker who has served the City of Eutaw for many years,” a spokesperson with the City of Eutaw said in a statement.  (More here.)

Employee dies at Lowe’s after equipment falls on them: ‘We are devastated’

STAUNTON, Va.  – An employee at a Lowe’s hardware store in Virginia has died. WHSV reports the employee died at a Lowe’s in Staunton. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. The Staunton Police Department said they were called to the store on Sunday around 8:30 p.m. for a non-criminal matter. A spokesperson with OSHA said it appears a piece of equipment fell on the employee. “We are devastated by this death, and our thoughts are with his family. We are making counseling available for our associates, and Lowe’s is currently assisting local authorities with their investigation,” a Lowe’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Worker death reported at Delta Township automotive supplier

DELTA TWP, MI — A worker at Alliance Interiors died Monday night when he was caught in a piece of machinery that began operating, according to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Eaton County Sheriff’s Office deputies and EMS were called to the company at 4521 W. Mt. Hope Highway about 11:14 p.m. Monday, a sheriff’s office employee said. The victim, a 24-year-old man, was transported to an area hospital where he was declared dead. An incident summary posted to MIOSHA’s website said the production technician was heating a finished part to remove oils when the next cycle of a vacuum forming mold began. The victim was caught between an extended conveyor and vacuum forming mold, crushing him.

Homewood man killed in petroleum plant blast was also wrestling coach

LEMONT, Ill. (AP) — A man killed in an explosion at a suburban Chicago petroleum refinery in Lemont was working at the plant as a contractor and was also a high school wrestling coach, authorities said. The Will County Coroner’s Office said Dru Worker, 25, of Homewood, Illinois, was killed in Tuesday morning’s explosion at Seneca Petroleum Co. in Lemont in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. He was pronounced dead at the scene after an asphalt tank apparently exploded, the Will County Sheriff’s Office said. A second person suffered minor injuries in the blast, which was followed by a fire. Several agencies are investigating the explosion, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the county coroner’s office and the Illinois State Fire Marshal. Worker was an employee of M&J Industrial Services, as is the person injured in the blast, and both had been doing work at the refinery when the explosion occurred, the company said.

Winston-Salem man dies after 25-foot fall at Morehead High School

EDEN, N.C. (WGHP) — A Winston-Salem man died after a fall on Wednesday at Morehead High School, according to an Eden Police Department news release. At 8:47 aA.m., Eden officers with the Eden Police Department were sent to Morehead High School when they were told about an industrial accident Arriving officers and emergency medical staff found a 45-year-old man, later identified as Manuel Montellano, 45, of Winston-Salem, unconscious behind the auditorium. He was treated on scene by Rockingham County EMS and then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased on arrival. Investigators determined that he fell around 25 feet.

SCMA mourns loss of worker killed on the job Thursday

POTITSVLLE, PA — The Schuylkill County Municipal Authority is mourning the death of one of its workers killed while on the job Thursday morning in Pottsville. Jeremy W. Smith, 46, of Foster Twp., died from injuries he suffered when he was struck by an SUV around 10:40 a.m. in the 400 block of Nichols Street. “It is with extreme sadness and grief that we announce the tragic loss of SCMA employee, Jeremy Smith,” said Patrick Caulfield, SCMA executive director. According to Caulfield, Smith was a 17-year veteran with SCMA’s Meter Department and was working at a job site during the incident.

Family remembers victim killed at American Elm

Denver, CO — Emerall Vaughn-Dahler and Ignacio “Nacho” Gutierrez Morales were found dead Monday at a business in the 4100-block of West 38th Street in Denver. Police are investigating their deaths as homicides. Family members said Emerall worked as the general manager at American Elm, and spent many years in the hospitality business. Family members said Vaughn-Dahler was a mother to 12-year-old Michael, and married her husband, Andrew, in 2018. Work friends also described her as a caretaker.

AEP employee dies while on the job

BOLT, W.Va. (WSAZ) -An AEP employee died on the job Friday evening while assisting with restorations in Bolt, West Virginia, according to an AEP spokesperson. “Out of respect for family and coworkers, no further details are available at this time,” said an AEP Spokesperson. “We lost one of our AEP linemen this week here in WV. Robbie Key. He left behind his wife & high school sweetheart – and his 2 children, He helped coach [the] football team & was an active youth wrestling coach,” the LineLife Foundation stated in a Facebook post.

Police say Glendale gas station employee was targeted in deadly shooting

Glendale, AZ — Police say the victim, 25-year-old Irma Rivera Martinez, was shot multiple times while working at a gas station near 51st Avenue and Glendale. The victim died as a result of her injuries.

1 killed, 2 employees injured at Tennessee Volkswagen plant after road incident

Chattanooga, TN — One person was killed and two people were injured in a road incident at the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant in Tennessee on Saturday, spokesperson Amanda Plecas confirmed to CBS News in an email. All three people were Volkswagen employees, the spokesperson said. The company halted production at the plant for the day, the spokesperson said, as Volkswagen “continues to work closely with local law enforcement as they investigate the incident.”

Employee dead, customer wounded after shots ring out at Mandina’s Restaurant in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA — A man is dead and a woman is wounded after shots rang out, outside a busy New Orleans restaurant Friday night. A spokesperson with the New Orleans Police Department says around 8:20 p.m., gunfire was reported at Mandina’s in Mid-City, located in the 3800 block of Canal Street. At the scene, police found a man and a woman who had been struck by bullets, apparently from a drive-by shooting. The man died outside the restaurant. A source identified the victim as a long-time Mandina’s employee who was outside serving tables when the shots were fired. The victim’s name has not been released.

Truck Driver Killed After Rolling Tanker, Explosion

Grand Rapids, MI — A 31-year-old man from Grand Rapids died Saturday afternoon after the semi truck he was driving rolled and caught fire in New Independence Township, which is in St. Louis County. The crash happened around 1 p.m. near the intersection of highways 53 and 33. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Xavier Ryan Henson, 31, was traveling north on Hwy 33 when he was unable to negotiate the curve heading onto Hwy 53. The truck quickly burst into flames.

DPW employee killed in post parade cleanup

St. Thomas, V.I. — Police have charged a 21-year-old man with killing a Department of Public Works employee who was working at St. Thomas Carnival on Saturday night. Alrick M. Thomas, 54, was shot to death on Norre Gade in the area of the Frederick Lutheran Church at around 8:37 p.m., “while the 2023 Carnival Festivities were in full swing,” according to police. The Adults’ Parade was held Saturday, one of the biggest events of the Carnival celebration, and the scene of the shooting is located between the end of the parade route and Carnival Village in Fort Christian parking lot. The area was busy with families enjoying the celebrations, and multiple people called 911 to report the gunfire. Officers found Thomas unresponsive, and said he appeared to have suffered at least one gunshot wound. Emergency Medical Technicians concluded there were no signs of life at 8:52 p.m., according to police.

South Florida authorities are still investigating after two pesticide workers died and a third was hospitalized after fumigating a Pompano Beach warehouse.

Pompano Beach, FL — The three workers sprayed the Baer’s Furniture Warehouse Saturday and finished their shifts. One began to fill ill and went to a hospital. Later, two other employees were found dead, one in his vehicle, according to multiple local news reports. Authorities found no hazardous substances in the vehicle. The furniture warehouse was evacuated Tuesday, but no issues were found inside the structure, officials said. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is investigating. It and other agencies have interviewed witnesses and have checked the pest control company records, the news outlets reported. The type of pesticide used was not reported.

Nolanville Police identify truck driver killed in April 24 crash

NOLANVILLE, Texas — The Nolanville Police Department has identified the man killed in a deadly crash in Nolanville on April 24. Chief Michael Hatton of Nolanville PD identified the driver as 43-year-old Victor Powell of Austin. Bell County Public Information Officer James Stafford said the accident occurred along I-14 West when a Pontiac collided with an 18-wheeler near the Paddy Hamilton Road exit. Stafford said a pickup truck stopped to help, but was struck by another vehicle. Another 18-wheeler carrying 8,500 gallons of fuel then crashed into all of the vehicles, said Stafford. The truck carrying fuel reportedly burst into flames, according to Stafford, burning so hot the road may reportedly have to be repaved. Stafford said the driver of the 18-wheeler was killed, but the others involved suffered only minor injuries.

Man dies in tree-cutting accident

Mobile, AL — A Mobile man died Tuesday after getting tangled up in harness cords while trying to cut a tree limb, authorities confirmed Wednesday. The incident happened around 2 p.m. when the man got tangled up in his harness, according to officials. Police said the death is being investigated as an accident.

Construction worker dies in Sevierville

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A construction worker died on Monday, according to Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration official Chris Cannon. TOSHA officials were notified of the death, which occurred near 1038 Leslie Way in Sevierville, and sent an investigator to determine what led to the worker’s death. Sevier County Sheriff’s Office officials identified Gabriel Rodrigues, 20, of Pigeon Forge was operating a skid-steer at a construction site when the incident occurred. Rodrigues was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division and the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration are conducting a joint investigation into the incident.

Workplace fatality reported in Negaunee Township

NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, MI— A Negaunee man has died in a workplace accident. Michigan State Police from the Negaunee Post were dispatched Tuesday around 10:45 a.m. to Superior Auto Parts in Negaunee Township. An employee had reportedly suffered serious injuries at the store. Investigation revealed the employee had been in a workshop accident. The 57-year-old was taken to UPHS-Marquette, where he died of his injuries.

Firefighter dies in crash while responding to call

North Tazewell, TN — A member of the North Tazewell Volunteer Fire Department died due to injuries he sustained in a crash while responding to a call. According to a preliminary report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, a 1990 Spartan fire truck was traveling on State Route 63, Cedar Fork Road, near Cedar Grove Road in Claiborne County, as crews responded to an incident involving a child. Captain Roy Sewell, Jr., age 27, was driving the truck when it ran off the right side of the road and continued down an embankment. While going down the embankment, the truck rolled over and landed on its top. Sewell died of his injuries.

Northern Kentucky company investigating ‘terrible’ workplace death

BOONE COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) – A woman who worked at a Florence paving company died at a job site earlier this month. Autumn Fabre, an equipment operator with Riegler Blacktop, died on April 12, according to a statement from Riegler President Michael Riegler. Riegler references a “terrible accident on a job site” but does not say what happened. Her obituary says she died at St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

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