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April 19, 2018
This piece is presented by Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company.
Millions of Americans go to work every day with the expectation they will return home after their shift. In 2016, the most recent year data is available, more than 30 workers in South Dakota didn’t get that chance.
Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year in April. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers.
For the first time, South Dakota will be participating in this annual event. The public is encouraged to join in honoring those workers’ lives lost in South Dakota and answer the call to action for ongoing awareness of workplace safety.
Sheila Stanley is the area director for the Sioux Falls Area OSHA office, which opened in late 2015.
“OSHA has always been working in South Dakota, but now that we have an office here, we are more engaged with the local community,” Stanley said. “It’s important to recognize that fatal events happen at work. This event allows us to not only memorialize the individual that passed, but also learn from it.”
The inaugural Workers’ Memorial Day event in South Dakota is the result of multiple partners coming together. In addition to the Region VIII Occupational Safety and Health Administration they include: Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, Safety Solutions, South Dakota Safety Council, Associated General Contractors of South Dakota, Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire, South Dakota Trucking Association, RAS and the City of Sioux Falls.
Tony Drovdal is the owner of Safety Solutions. His interest in getting involved stems from his vocation helping ensure employees go home safely every day.
“Certain military and public safety workers have an expectation that they may have to risk their lives on the job. They do that with the assumption of saving others. There is no construction project or manufacturing deadline worth dying for. It’s just money,” Drovdal said.
Mike Adams, president and CEO of Adams Thermal Systems will be speaking from an employer perspective during the event.
“Most business owners with a workplace fatality in their history want to leave that experience in the past. Personally, I really understand those emotions. But at the same time, that’s the reason more employers need to talk about it. Businesses will engage on safety for one of two reasons: because they’ve heeded the message or because they’ve lived through a tragedy,” he said.
Terry Lively, senior safety and compliance consultant at Howalt+McDowell Insurance echoes those sentiments, stating employers and employees have an obligation to recognize inherent dangers in the workplace.
“Before you start a job or task, step back, look at it and ask yourself, ‘If I don’t follow all the safety precautions, what will this do to me? To my co-workers? To my loved ones?’” said Lively.
The Workers’ Memorial Day event will feature the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and Police Departments Honor Guard, Brandon Police Chief David Kull playing bagpipes, a moment of silence for each of the fallen workers being honored and a call to action for those in attendance to recognize that we’re not done making our workplaces safe yet.
If you go
What: Workers’ Memorial Day
Where: Sertoma Park Pavilion
When: 10 to 11 a.m. April 25
If an ADA accommodation is needed, please contact Lori Kiesow at 605-339-3874 at least 72 hours before the event.
We all expect to go home at the end of the workday, but in 2016, the most recent year data is available, more than 30 South Dakotans didn’t get that chance. Here’s how they will be remembered next week.