Weekly toll

How workers died last week: Two trench collapses, electrocution, wood chipper, falls, shootings, stabbing, vehicle incidents, suicide. 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. 

Construction worker dead after trench collapses in Shawnee

SHAWNEE, Okla. — The Shawnee Police Department said the man who was killed in a construction trench Wednesday afternoon was laying pipes for a new housing development when the walls collapsed. Police say by the time they arrived on site, other workers had already pulled him out of the trench. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the business and site. Shawnee police are still investigating the death and said they’ll release the man’s name when his family has been notified.

Construction Worker Killed When Foundation of House Being Waterproofed Collapses

Hanson, MA — The partial collapse of a house foundation was the apparent cause of the death of a 51-year old construction worker in Hanson, Massachusetts on Wednesday morning. The worker, Gerceir Osvaldo DeFaria, was pronounced dead on the scene, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz. He said police responded to an emergency call of a man trapped at a construction site on Dwight Street at 11:30 am. Officials said recovery crews worked for three hours to reach and remove the body. According to DA Cruz, the basement of the single family house was being waterproofed and a trench was being dug on the side of the single-family house when the foundation on that same side broke away and fell, pinning DeFaria underneath. Local and state police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the fatal incident.

Worker killed when he gets pulled into wood chipper at lumber yard

Appling, GA — The incident happened at the Pollard Lumber Company in Appling, Georgia, officials said. Appling is about 20 miles northwest of Augusta. An investigation is underway into how a man working at a Georgia lumber plant ended up in its wood chipper, according to investigators. The victim was identified as 63-year-old Ralph Pickens of McCormick, South Carolina, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia told McClatchy News. He died on the job Monday, Feb. 5, at Pollard Lumber Company in Appling, Georgia, 20 miles northwest of Augusta. TOP VIDEOS Investigators say Pickens died after entering “an industrial conveyor wood chipper” at the plant, which manufactures southern yellow pine for wholesale. Details of how Pickens got onto the conveyor belt have not been released.

Sanitation worker killed in crash after coming out of retirement

Brooksville, FL — Less than a year after a veteran sanitation worker came back to work from retirement, he was killed in a crash on the job, Florida city officials said. Ed Johnson was operating a garbage truck for the city on Feb. 12 when he was involved in a crash, according to a news release from the city of Brooksville. Details of the crash were not released, but city officials said Johnson was driving the truck and died following the accident. Johnson retired after serving the department of public works for 15 years, officials said, “but loved his work so much that he returned in April 2023.”

Man found stabbed to death in East Bay park where he worked

Pleasant Hill, CA — A 37-year-old man who worked as a janitor in a park in Pleasant Hill was found stabbed to death in the parking lot there early Saturday morning, authorities said. Police said Santiago Jacobo, of Pittsburg, was discovered by his wife after she became worried when her husband failed to return home after his late night shift at Pleasant Hill Park, said Pleasant Hill Police Capt. Matt Kristic. Police police said in a social media post that they had found Jacobo lying unresponsive with multiple stab wounds in the lot near the park at 147 Gregory Lane. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Worker Dies after Falling from Barge at Assumption Parish Shipyard

Assumption Parish, LA — A man died on Saturday after falling from a barge that he was working on at a shipyard located in Assumption Parish. At approximately 11:30 am Saturday morning, a worker was working on a barge at a shipyard in Bayou Boeuf when he fell onto a lower portion of the barge and suffered massive head injuries before falling into the water. The Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Division and U.S. Coast Guard responded and began searching for the worker. The body of the male victim, who is from Honduras and has not been identified, was recovered at approximately 1:30 pm. The accident remains under investigation at this time.

Shelton police ID tree worker killed after he was struck by work vehicle

SHELTON, CT — A Waterbury man working for a tree service company on School Street was killed when he was hit by a work vehicle, according to police. Shelton police have identified the man as Erick Irizarry, 29, who they said was struck by the vehicle while working for Asplundh Tree Service around 1 p.m. Friday near the intersection with Monroe Street. Police said Irizarry was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene.

N.M. officer killed in stabbing before suspect is shot and killed by witness

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A New Mexico police officer died after he was stabbed by a suspect, who was shot and killed by a witness to the attack on Sunday evening, police said. Las Cruces Patrol Officer Jonah Hernandez was stabbed at least once shortly before 5 p.m. after responding to a report of a trespasser on South Valley Drive, the Las Cruces Police Department said in a statement posted on social media. A witness to the attack used the officer’s police radio to call for help after the stabbing, but Hernandez died after he was transported to MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, police said.

San Antonio road worker killed in Schertz Parkway collision

SCHERTZ, Texas – Authorities have identified the elderly man who tragically lost his life early Thursday serving as a flagger for a local business. According to the Schertz Police Department, tragedy struck near the 5800 block of Schertz Parkway early Thursday morning as a pedestrian lost their life in a collision with a vehicle around 6 a.m. Police revealed that the victim, Oscar Silvas, 63, from San Antonio, TX, was serving as a flagger for a nearby business and was attempting to block the roadway when the collision occurred. The driver coming southbound on Schertz Parkway was unable to see Silvas until it was too late, resulting in a fatal accident.

Worker dies in construction accident at suburban high school

Homewood, IL — A masonry worker died in a construction accident Wednesday at a south suburban high school. Ronald Simonson, 63, of Vernon Hills, suffered wounds sustained in a motorized hand saw accident while working on a new science building at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, the school district and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Electrocuted maintenance worker’s body found in Coca-Cola distribution center

Raleigh, NC — A North Carolina maintenance worker was electrocuted while moving a fan, officials said. A maintenance worker with a “contagious smile” was found dead after he was electrocuted at a Coca-Cola warehouse in North Carolina, according to officials and a news outlet. On Thursday, Feb. 8, Raleigh-area officers responded to the beverage distribution center and found the man’s body “in a Fire Suppression Riser Room,” according to the Clayton Police Department. The man was identified as 34-year-old Nathan Garrett Vanbeek of Selma. Vanbeek was an employee of Stoltz Management Company, which does maintenance work at the Coca-Cola center, police wrote in a news release. Officers said they were called after a worker found Vanbeek’s body at the facility in Clayton, a Johnston County town roughly 15 miles southeast of Raleigh. “After further investigation, it was determined that Vanbeek was removing a heater fan from a wall inside the room and appeared to have been electrocuted during the process,” police wrote.

Rigger falls to death during production of Marvel’s ‘Wonder Man’

LOS ANGELES, CA — A rigger died after falling from rafters Tuesday during the production of Marvel Studios’ “Wonder Man” in California, an official confirmed. The individual, identified as Juan ‘Spike’ Osorio, a dedicated rigger, fell from a wooden catwalk during the production, marking a somber moment for the entertainment industry. “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and friends, and our support is behind the investigation into the circumstances of this accident,” a spokesperson for Marvel said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate.

AT&T worker killed in Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – It was a deadly day on the job for an AT&T worker in Miami Beach. 7Skyforce hovered above the scene along West 24th Street, near Regatta Avenue, Wednesday afternoon. The victim’s body was seen covered with a yellow tarp. The incident reportedly occurred just after 1:15 p.m. Workers in the area were seen distraught and hugging each other. A support dog was brought in to comfort other workers. As of late Wednesday afternoon, it remains unclear what happened, as Miami Beach Police continue to investigate.

Chicago worker dies after falling from roof in Gurnee

GURNEE, Ill.  — A Chicago man is dead after falling off a roof in the far northern suburbs. Gurnee Police and the Gurnee Fire Department responded on February 2 to the 2000 block of Liberty Lane in response to a report of a man who had fallen off a roof. Emergency crews arrived and found Braulio Lozano, 28 from Chicago unresponsive, but breathing. The man was part of a crew installing solar panels on the roof of a two-story home, according to the Lake County Coroner’s Office. Lozano was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced deceased in the emergency room.

Sheriff’s employee dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound at detention center, sheriff’s office says

KINGSTON, NY — An Ulster County Sheriff’s Office employee who shot himself at the jail died at a local hospital on Thursday afternoon, according to the sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s officials found the employee at about 3:30 p.m. at the detention center, formally known as the county’s Law Enforcement Center. They tried to provide emergency medical aid before taking the person to Health Alliance Hospital’s campus on Mary’s Avenue in Kingston, according to a news release sent by the agency. The employee was pronounced dead at the hospital. The death is being investigated by the State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation with the assistance of the county sheriff’s office. A confidential assistant to the sheriff told the Times Union further information would not be released at this time. But Sheriff Juan Figueroa told the Kingston-based Daily Freeman on Friday that the person who died was a man who had worked with the sheriff’s office for 20 years.

Deputy killed in Blount County shooting, search for suspect continues

SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) — A Blount County deputy was killed in an officer-involved shooting Thursday evening. The search for a suspect remains ongoing. Deputy Greg McCowan was shot and killed during a traffic stop in the 4900 block of Sevierville Road. Deputy Shelby Eggers was shot in the leg and returned fire. She was treated at an area hospital and released.

Employee succumbs to injuries from Jan. 27 accident at HDK Industries

Rogersville, TN — A Rogersville woman who was struck by a fork lift truck inside the HDK Industries plant at Rogersville on Jan. 27 succumbed to her injuries this past Monday Feb. 5. The Rogersville Police Department reported that on Jan. 27 at 7:45 a.m. police and rescue personnel were dispatched to HDK Industries, 100 Industrial Park Drive, Rogersville. RPD Public Safety Director Travis Fields stated that officers on the scene determined that the driver of the folk lift didn’t see Cheryl Anne Davidson, 65, of Rogersville. Fields reported that Davidson was struck by the skid blade inside the plant and fell onto the floor, striking her head. Police said Davidson was initially alert and speaking to first responders, but suddenly lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital. Davidson was employed at HDK Industries for 30 years.

2 arrested after worker killed at Richmond restaurant

RICHMOND, Va. — Two people have been arrested after a Richmond restaurant worker was shot and killed Wednesday morning, according to Richmond Police. Police said the deadly crime happened at Lindo Latino Market on Broad Rock Boulevard in South Richmond at about 10:20 a.m. “The call was for an item stolen and someone hurt. And then on the way officers the call was clarified to be a robbery and a shooting,” Richmond Police spokesperson James Mercante said. “Officers arrived and found an adult male, a staff member of the restaurant, down and unresponsive from a gunshot wound. He was unfortunately pronounced dead at the scene.” The slain employee intervened during a robbery attempt and there was an altercation with the suspects that ended in the shooting, according to sources. Marvin Ramos-Hernandez of Chesterfield, an employee of the restaurant, was pronounced dead at the scene with a gunshot wound.

One man killed in deadly explosion at Michigan oil pumping station

CASS COUNTY, Mich. — One person is dead following a sudden explosion at a petroleum pumping station in Cass County, Michigan. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says two men were working at the station when it exploded. Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Lawrence of Osceola is expected to be okay, but 71-year-old Charles Lawrence of Lakefort died in the blast. Officials say it happened at an oil pumping station owned by Trak Oil just before 4pm on Bulhand Street, a rural area of Cassopolis. Neighbors close to the scene tell ABC57 they’ve never felt anything like the sheer power of that explosion.

Sugar Land employee dies after being hit by chase suspects

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) — A Sugar Land Public Works Department employee is the innocent driver who was hit and killed by burglary suspects fleeing police during a chase that started in Missouri City on Wednesday morning. Authorities identified 56-year-old Joseph Aponte Sr. as the victim. According to a spokesman, he worked for the City of Sugar Land for about a year. A new video obtained by ABC13 shows the suspects leaving the scene of the burglary on Crestmont Loop Place in Missouri City about 15 minutes before the fatal crash. The video shows two vehicles involved: a black SUV and a Toyota Camry. According to Missouri City police, officers responding to the burglary call initiated a traffic stop on the black SUV, but it sped off. The failed traffic stop turned into a chase. The SUV entered Sugar Land on Highway 90A and ran a red light at Gillingham Lane at about the same time Aponte was entering the intersection. He was in a Public Works truck. He did not survive the crash.

Worker death at Schreiber Foods in Carthage being investigated

Carthage, MO — A worker death has been reported at Schreiber Foods in Carthage. Carthage Police Lt. Eric Miller tells Newstalk KZRG they were called to the plant on Claxton Avenue at 3:42pm Tuesday after a man fell into a machine. Miller says upon arrival, the man was unconscious with shallow breathing. Fire and EMS also responded and CPR was performed for 30 minutes before the 48-year-old victim was then pronounced dead at the scene. The employee has been identified as Scott Parker, 48, of Neosho, Mo. It is being investigated as an industrial accident.

Harnett County deputy crossed center line, killed in multi-vehicle crash

Harnett County, NC — A Harnett County deputy was killed after he crashed into a tractor-trailer Tuesday afternoon, causing a three-vehicle crash on Darroch Road. According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Deputy Chris Johnson crossed the center line in his Dodge Charger and hit a tractor-trailer on Darroch Road near N.C. Highway 210 in Harnett County. After impact, Johnson’s patrol car rotated in the roadway and struck a car that was behind the tractor-trailer. The driver and passenger of that car were taken to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Johnson died at the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured, highway patrol said.

Crawford County deputy killed in head-on crash identified as former Bibb County Sheriff candidate

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Georgia — A Crawford County deputy was killed in a crash on Marshall Mill Road on Tuesday night while responding to a call, according to the Georgia State Patrol. 40-year-old Tim Rivers was driving south but crossed the centerline into the northbound lane and into the path of another vehicle. The crash happened just before 10:15 p.m. He was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The other driver’s name is being withheld at this time is currently being treated for their injuries, according to a release from Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker. Sheriff Walker says Rivers was helping another deputy who was performing a traffic stop. Rivers had been with the department for two years and was a good worker that they enjoyed having. He leaves behind two kids and a fiancé.

Fired worker living at company warehouse shoots former boss dead

Knox County, TN – A man killed his former boss after he was fired from his job while he was living at the business’s warehouse, Tennessee police said. Daniel Arwood, 38, is charged with first-degree murder, according to the Knoxville Police Department. Officers were called to a shooting behind an auto business at around 5:45 a.m. Feb. 5, police said in a news release. First responders found the boss in the fenced area around the back of the business with at least one gunshot wound. He died on scene. The boss was a contractor who managed a fleet of Knox County Schools buses, police told McClatchy News. Arwood worked for the man, who WBIR identified as 29-year-old Aaron Russell. Arwood was living in a room at the warehouse but was supposed to be leaving Feb. 5 after he was fired the week prior, according to a police report obtained by WVLT.

Texas truck driver killed on I-20 in Shreveport

CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Caddo Parish Coroner’s office has released the name of a man killed in a wreck on I-20 on Feb. 5. Raymond Lofland, Jr., 67, died in a two-vehicle collision in the westbound lanes of I-20 near Bert Kouns Industrial Loop and Pines Road. The wreck occurred just before 6 a.m. Lofland was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering severe head trauma. He was identified through fingerprint comparison.

Volunteer firefighter dies in Fayette after battling housefire overnight

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) -A tragedy in Fayette County. Authorities say a volunteer firefighter died in an accident after doing his heroic part in battling an overnight house fire just outside Fayette city limits. According to Fayette police, the accident happened this morning around 5 on Fayette County Road 80. A veteran firefighter crashed his 1,000-gallon pumper and it was the fire chief who found him. The flag at the Lawrence Mill Volunteer Fire Department is now at half-staff in memory of the firefighter who died less than 2 miles from the very fire he helped fight overnight. The police chief couldn’t talk about the situation including releasing the firefighter’s name right now because he says they are still gathering facts. The chief did say the fireman was 71 years old, on his way back to the fire station and one of the founding members of the Lawrence Mill Volunteer Fire Department.

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