A presidential proclamation, a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace" and prayer all marked Boise's commemoration of Workers' Memorial Day on April 30. In 2014, nearly 5,000 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and it's estimated 150 U.S. workers die each day from hazardous working conditions.
"Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living" said U.S. labor organizer Mary "Mother" Jones in 1925. Her words have echoed for nearly a century. David Kearns, director of the Boise-area office of the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told attendees of the Boise Central Trades and Labor Councils memorial service too many Idahoans continue to lose their lives in work-related incidents.
"Today we remember all of them," said Kearns. "But those workers didn't have to die."
With that, Kearns shared a grim roll call of 10 OSHA-investigated Idaho deaths:
- A 36-year-old male killed at dairy farm when a feed trailer towed by a tractor backed over his ATV.
- An 18-year-old male who died of heat stress and dehydration on his first day on the job picking weeds at a Lapwai farm.
- A 33-year-old male who died of a heart attack while training in wildland firefighting.
- A 33-year-old male struck by a cable at a logging operation.
- A 35-year-old male pinned against a wall of a metal storage container at a Declo dairy.
- A 22-year-old male crushed between a drill rig and truck in Soda Springs.
- A 52-year-old male killed when his ATV rolled over at a Buhl farm.
- A 55-year-old male crushed by a cable at a Shoshone County logging operation.
- A 63-year-old female pulled into a conveyor shaft by her hair at a Caldwell seed factory.
- A 38-year-old male who drowned in a manure pit at a Magic Valley dairy.
Leland Heinbach, President of the Idaho chapter of the AFl-CIO, added three more Idaho names to the list of the dead: two military veterans who were killed in stateside accidents, and a Coeur d'Alene police officer shot and killed in the line of duty.
"Our nation is built on the dignity of our workers," said Kearns. "We all must be involved in their cause."
Some came to Saturday's memorial to mourn the loss of a loved one and some came to show solidarity for the strengthening of OSHA laws. All bowed their heads to honor the dead.