Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

April 27, 2012

Memorial services honor more than 100

The list was shorter this year, but event organizers said there were still too many names.

Hourly workers, managers and union representatives from some of Kokomo’s largest employers gathered for two ceremonies Friday honoring people who died on the job.

A total 103 Indiana residents died either on the job or later because of work-related injuries or illnesses, according to the Indiana State AFL-CIO.

The list is a combination of deaths reported by the Department of Labor and Worker’s Compensation Board, said AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Harris.

Rick Ward, Howard County chairman of the United Auto Workers’ Community Action Program, told a crowd outside Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Casting Plant that companies and unions will always have their differences, but they need to work together to keep workers safe.

“We’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to work smarter, we’ve got to work together” to protect workers, Ward said.

A couple hours later, representatives from United Auto Workers Local 292 and the American

Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees placed a wreath in Highland Park to honor workers who died.

“That list will hopefully get smaller and smaller,” said Justin Kennedy, a safety representative with UAW Local 292.

The 103 work-related Hoosier deaths remembered Friday were a dip from 115 the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics reported for 2010 and 125 in 2009.

Nationwide, the bureau reported 4,690 deaths in 2010, the most recent year the federal agency had data for. Five of those fatalities were in the Kokomo area.

According to the AFL-CIO’s most recent Death on the Job report, the state ranked 33rd in workplace fatalities.

Of the 115 work-related fatalities reported in 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated 34, the AFL-CIO reported. Penalties from those investigations amounted to a total $434,300.

Friday’s memorial services in Kokomo were two of hundreds that will happen as part of Workers’ Memorial Day, which is traditionally on or near April 28.

The Indiana AFL-CIO will have a statewide ceremony 11 a.m. Monday in Indianapolis.

• Daniel Human is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomotribune.com.

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