There are dangers when a "day at the office" is spent in the trench just dug, on a highway packed with construction-frustrated motorists, or in the hot, open fields of July.
Jory Raber III was buried alive. George Waltemyer was hit by an SUV. Juan Leipiz succumbed to heat stroke.
Those men, who range in age from 20 to 85, will be remembered Thursday, April 28th along with four other workers from York and Adams counties who died as a result of workplace-related injuries.
York-Adams Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will hold its 22nd annual observance of Workers Memorial Day during an hour-long program, 6 p.m. at Kiwanis Lake.
The nationwide memorial observance is held on the anniversary of the signing of the Occupational and Safety Health Act about 40 years ago. The event is open to the public, and family members, friends, and coworkers of fatally injured or disabled workers are invited to attend.
The theme of the event, "Safe Jobs Save Lives. Our Work’s Not Done," is meant to encourage public support of legislative and regulatory efforts to improve safety and health protections, said Alan Vandersloot, AFL-CIO labor liaison for the United Way of York County.
Thousands of workers are killed on job sites in the U.S. every year, and sometimes efforts to improve regulations are broken by corporations that lobby against them, he said.
"It’s not a blame thing," Vandersloot said. "Many of the major employees have very strong safety programs because it saves them money … on worker’s compensation claims. But still a lot of employees are intimidated to approach the employer, and if it’s an imminent danger, you should go to the appropriate management official."
He said labor unions, which fought to have the workplace safety legislation passed, continue to rally for improvements and spread awareness to increase the safety of their members.
Everyone should want a safe workplace, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is understaffed.
"It would take them 100 years to investigate every workplace," he said. "The only time they respond is when there’s an incident, so a lot of it is left up to the employees. Safety is really not just a political solution, it has to be in the mindset of people."
Kevin Kilp, director of the Harrisburg area office of OSHA, said multiple-injury incidents and fatalities are always investigated to ensure safety practices are being followed.
"Fatality investigations are perhaps the most important thing that we do at OSHA," he said. "Out overarching goal is to prevent fatalities."
Of the seven area deaths, only the trench collapse that killed Jory Raber is still under investigation. The other investigations have been resolved.
Kilp said OSHA officials will be involved in the observance to help raise awareness.
WORKPLACE-RELATED DEATHS IN 2010:
Feb. 17: Michael J. Sneeringer, 64, died after a fall at the Littlestown Waste Water Treatment Plant.
July 8: Juan Leipiz, 48, died after collapsing from heat stress in a field at Boyer’s Nursery in Biglerville.
Nov. 11: David L. Grove, 31, an Adams County Wildlife Conservation Officer, was shot while making an arrest in Freedom Township.
July 31: Robert Patrick Enfield, 23, died from blunt force head trauma after being trapped by a heavy metal ramp at Americold Logistics.
Oct. 12: Dale Lentz, 63, was using a piece of high-reach equipment to repair a garage door overhead at BAE Systems when he apparently hit his head and became pinned between the door and the high-reach from which he was working.
Nov. 5: George Waltemyer, 85, was struck by a vehicle in the 2400 block of South George Street while working as an Adecco flagman on a Kinsley Construction site.
Dec. 14: Jory Raber III, 20, died in a trench collapse while installing a water drainage pipe on an Eclipse Builders construction site at 1000 block of Old Trail Road in Newberry Township. Josh Gimmel, who was later rescued, was buried waist-deep. Raber was completely covered in rubble and died of compressional asphyxia.
Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 776
-Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @dispatchbizwiz.