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Workers Memorial Day underscores denial of workers' rights

During commemorations of Workers Memorial Day, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations expressed its concern over the rising number of workplace fatalities nationwide, including in Colorado. The organization continues to fight for workers' rights to make a living and provide support for their families without having to risk their lives. The president of the organization said big corporations profit from the labor of workers who are offered little or no safety protection.

It was noted that the over 4,820 workers who lost their lives in on-the-job accidents in 2014 are only part of the shocking statistics. It is estimated that occupational diseases claimed the lives of between and 50,000 and 60,000 additional workers. Overall, this equates to the deaths of 150 workers every day -- mostly from preventable causes that could have been avoided by complying with safety regulations.

Another concerning matter involves the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to effectively monitor workplace safety and enforce compliance. It was reported that, with the current number of workplaces countrywide, the agency cannot visit each workplace more frequently than once in every 145 years -- on average. For those employers who disregard workers' safety, this enforcement process may do little to convince them to comply with prescribed safety regulations.

While workers' rights to safe workplace environments of some Colorado workplaces may continue to be disregarded, families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents are entitled to pursue financial relief through the workers' compensation insurance system. Death benefits claims may be filed with the program. Although such compensation can never replace a lost loved one, it can ease the financial burden of end-of-life expenses and lost income.

Source:, "Workers Memorial Day: 150 Workers Killed on the Job Every Day", Sandy Smith, April 28, 2016

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