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Day 2 of Workers' Memorial Week of Action: National Report, Protecting Temporary Workers and Remembering Day Davis

Today, National COSH released its Workers’ Memorial Week of Action report, “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities,” which combines stories of injured and fallen workers with hard data to portray the heart-breaking reality of workplace fatalities. (Read the press release here.)

The report covers issues ranging from health and safety issues for temporary workers, immigrant workers, energy workers, and young workers, as well as heat stress, retaliation, and minuscule OSHA fines, among other topics.

The report highlights the human toll of unsafe workplaces. One of the fallen workers remembered in the report was 21-year-old Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis (right), who was killed on his first day on the job as a temporary worker at the Bacardi Bottling Company in Jacksonville, Fla.

Just before 5 p.m. on that first day, Day was cleaning glass from under the hoist of a palletizing machine, which stacks cases of Bacardi’s rum, when another employee restarted the palletizer. Day was crushed to death by the machine.

Bacardi Bottling had failed to train temporary employees on using locks and tags to prevent the accidental startup of machines and to ensure its own employees utilized lock-out/tag-out procedures.

Federal OSHA cited Bacardi Bottling with 12 safety violations in the incident – two “willful,” nine “serious,” and one “other-than-serious.” The company was fined $192,000. According to a statement from Bacardi Bottling, the company has addressed or put in place plans to resolve all safety and health matters identified by OSHA.

Day left behind his fiancée, Alicia, who was expecting their first child in October 2012.

Day’s story was also shared today on a telephone press conference, which, among other topics, discussed the need for adequate training and protection of temporary workers – which now comprise 25 percent of the workforce – from workplace hazards.

In response to Day’s death, OSHA Chief David Michaels called for stronger protections for all temporary workers.

“A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on Earth,” said Dr. Michaels. “We are seeing untrained workers – many of them temporary workers – killed very soon after starting a new job. This must stop. Employers must train all employees, including temporary workers, on the hazards specific to that workplace – before they start working.”

National COSH agrees wholeheartedly, and calls for more states to enact legislation modeled after the new Massachusetts Temporary Workers Right to Know Law, which requires temporary staffing agencies across the state to give each worker a written job order, providing information that every worker has a right to expect before going to a job. It also protects temporary workers against retaliation; some temporary staffing agencies blacklist or threaten deportation to temporary workers who speak up about safety or other issues on the job.

To learn more about the precarious nature of temporary work, the health and safety issues associated with it, and how safety can be improved, read National COSH’s report. To learn how else to get involved during Workers’ Memorial Week of Action, visit www.workersmemorialweek.org.

Please remember to join us tomorrow for a Facebook Town Hall: We’ll post an open-forum where you can ask questions, or feel free to share your reports, stories, stats or other materials, which we’ll help promote. Also on Thursday, @NationalCOSH will lead a Twitterstorm, so keep your materials and ideas coming.

(By the way: Our infographic has been seen by more than 4,300 people and has been shared more than 45 times since yesterday. Let’s keep the momentum going!)

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