Saturday, February 10, 2007

What Happens When Workers Die

Different things. Sometimes they're honored as an example of heroism:

Asbestos Victim to Be Posthumously Recognized at Third Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference

REDONDO BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an organization dedicated to serving as the voice of asbestos victims, today announced that asbestos victim Les Skramstad will be posthumously honored with the Alan Reinstein Memorial Award. Les was a Montana miner who lost his eleven year battle to diseases caused by asbestos on January 27, 2007 at age 70.

On March 31st, Les will be honored for his unwavering commitment to justice and asbestos disease awareness at the 3rd Annual Asbestos Awareness Day Conference in Philadelphia. He remained a beacon of hope and truth for nearly fifty years, even during his battle with asbestosis and mesothelioma. Les worked as a sweeper at Zonolite, a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana for three years.

“We are pleased to honor Les Skramstad with the Alan Reinstein Memorial Award,” said Linda Reinstein, Executive Director and Cofounder of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). “Les not only fought a deadly asbestos disease, but also worked for decades to raise awareness about its dangers. We will always remember him as we continue our fight to prevent diseases caused by deadly asbestos fibers.”

The Alan Reinstein Memorial Award was created in honor of Alan Reinstein who served as the former President of ADAO and activist before his death in early 2006 of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease.
Sometimes, their deaths result in improvements.

Kentucky Governor Proposes Social Worker Safety Bill
By Katherine Torres

In response to the murder of a child welfare worker last October, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher is supporting legislation that would enhance the safety for state human services workers and add more than 300 social workers to the frontline.

The measure, called the "Boni Frederick Memorial Bill," was named after 67-year-old social worker Boni Frederick, who was stabbed and beaten when she took a 10-month boy for a visit to his mother's house.

"Our human services workers face dangerous situations each and every day," said Gov. Fletcher. "I committed to Boni Frederick's co-workers that we would take steps to provide the protection and tools workers need to keep them safe, and this legislation is a critical part of fulfilling that commitment."
'Panic Buttons' and Supervised Visits

The legislation calls for about $21 million over the next 16 months to equip Kentucky social workers with devices fitted with "panic buttons" and global positioning systems. It also calls for hiring additional front-line staff in the Department for Community-Based Services (DCBS) offices across the state.

The legislation also authorizes neutral, supervised visits between birth parents and children in out-of-home care. The legislation allows the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) - where Frederick worked - to contract with local agencies to provide visitation sites and services.
(Jordan Barab wrote more about Boni Frederick's death in Confined Space)

And occasionally, justice is served:
Contractor admits role in death of a worker
Tuesday, February 06, 2007

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- In an apparent precedent on Staten Island, a well-regarded North Shore builder pleaded guilty yesterday to criminally negligent homicide stemming from the death of one of his workers, buried three years ago in a trench collapse at a West Brighton job site.

Kenneth Formica's felony plea in state Supreme Court, St. George, in connection with the death of Lorenzo Pavia, 39, on Dec. 15, 2003, marks the first time in recent history that a Staten Island contractor was found criminally liable for the death of a worker, sources said.
(Confined Space also has posts about the death of Lorenzo Pavia here and here.)

But, in case you're getting too hopeful, this is more the rule:
Son who ran over father fired
Special to Newsday

February 8, 2007, 9:40 PM EST

A Brooklyn man who accidentally crushed his father to death with a giant Payloader at a West Babylon recycling plant has been fired from his job.

Luis Marquez, 25, was fired Feb. 2 by an Omni Recycling supervisor who cited surveillance videotape that the company deemed shows a delayed reaction by Marquez to the Jan. 26 accident, union officials said.

The union contends the videotape demonstrates that Marquez was in a state of shock after riding over his father's torso and abdomen, and that the company, in the face of an investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is trying to shift the blame to Marquez.

"It's a slap in the face after a tragic accident," said Wayne Richardson, a business agent for Laborers' International Union Local 108, who is assigned to the Omni plant. "For you to terminate the man is really incredible."

Richardson said the union plans to meet with Omni management to press for Marquez's reinstatement.

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