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Kicking off Workers' Memorial Week of Action: Sharing infographics and honoring Orestes Martinez

Today, National COSH and allies kick off Workers’ Memorial Week of Action, the largest commemoration yet to honor workers injured or killed on the job. We’re just getting warmed up.

Today, we urge everyone in the workplace health and safety community – and everyone else, for that matter – to share this infographic depicting the prevalence of workplace fatalities, and the minuscule OSHA fines that often accompany them.

Here it is in English and Spanish. Or, better yet, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed to share directly from the source.

We also wanted to take the opportunity today to remember Orestes Martinez (right), who was killed on the job in 2009 while working at a construction site for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Martinez, then 29, was helping to install a two-ton, lead-lined door in the radiation department of the hospital. They were moving the door by hand since no lift device was available. During the installation, the door fell on Martinez, crushing him to death.

Federal OSHA investigated and cited Martinez’s employer, J.T. Vaughn Enterprises, for two serious violations. The agency proposed a penalty of $10,000 against the employer, but J.T. Vaughn Enterprises contested the citation and penalty by trying to shift the blame on to the workers. An administrative law judge withdrew one citation and reduced the penalty for the other violation to $3,500. The case closed in April 2011.

Orestes left behind a loving wife, Adriana, whose life has not been the same since her husband’s untimely death.

Adriana (left) takes on her husband’s fight as she joins National COSH on a telephone press conference tomorrow highlighting Workers’ Memorial Week of Action and the findings of National COSH’s report, “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities.”

“Losing my husband, my best friend, my love has left an empty space in my heart. The pain is indescribable,” Adriana wrote in a reflection piece for National COSH. “Nothing will ever be the same again, EVER. I have to learn how to live again, how to enjoy life, how to smile, how to be happy without feeling guilty, how to deal with this pain, how to deal with lonely nights. I need to learn how to face simple life situations, like the happiness of others, couples getting married and having babies, hearing about someone’s romantic dinner, knowing that they have someone to hold their hand and give them a hug when they are down, and knowing they still have someone to share their accomplishments and their life with. I am left with pain; my happiness was taken away from me in a matter of seconds.

“My life completely changed because someone put a price tag on my husband, because they did not do the right thing. I feel empty and broken. What hurts the most is that his death was preventable.

“Every day I have to fight a battle. I do not want this to happen to anyone. Although this is a long and difficult journey, I have chosen to fight in his name and for others, and to make a difference in someone’s life. My fight…his fight… has just started!”

Help Adriana, National COSH, and allies honor workers injured or killed on the job during Workers’ Memorial Week of Action. Click here to see what we have on tap for the week.

Read other stories of fallen workers. Learn more about Workers' Memorial Week of Action.

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