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Workers’ Memorial Week is coming… are you ready?

Nathan Phillips, 36, of
White Plains, Kentucky

On January 19, Nathan Phillips was operating a continuous mining machine in the Dotiki coal mine in Clay, Kentucky. The machine- a remote-controlled vehicle that uses a spinning steel drum and tungsten carbide teeth to cut coal- pinned him against the wall of the mine, inflicting fatal injuries. Nathan leaves behind a wife, a son, and three daughters.

Nathan’s death was one of three in U.S. coal mines so far this year. He and tens of thousands of others who lose their lives at work each year will be remembered during Workers’ Memorial Week (WMW) from April 23-30. It is a time to honor the dead and fight for the living, by advocating for safer, healthier workplaces.

WMW events and activities range from rallies to candlelight vigils to public forums to reports on local fatalities and workplace safety issues. They are organized by unions, worker centers, local COSH groups, faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens.

If you are interested in standing up for safe work, National COSH has suggestions and resources for organizing your own WMW event. Such events can pay tribute to the fallen, highlight local health and safety issues, and inspire others to take a stand for worker rights.

If you or your organization would like to create a WMW report, we have updated our resource guide “Telling Our Story,” with tips on researching and producing your own publication. By memorializing those who have left us, and highlighting trends and issues in your state and locality, you can bring public attention to the ongoing American tragedy of preventable workplace deaths.

If you are speaker of Spanish, National COSH presented our first-ever Spanish-language webinar to prepare you and your organization for Workers’ Memorial Week. The webinar featured representatives from MassCOSH, NYCOSH, SocalCOSH, New Labor, and Fe y Justicia, relating their experiences in creating WMW events and reports.

English speakers can listen to our previous webinar on worker fatalities.

By honoring their memory of workers like Nathan Phillips and understanding the underlying causes of workplace deaths, we can help save lives. When we take action and workers’ voices are heard, we are doing all we can to make sure there are fewer families and children left behind.