County Commemorates Workers Memorial Day

EDISON – In a solemn ceremony marked by an honor guard, bagpipes and the reading of the names of workers who died as a result of the workplace, county, state and federal officials, representatives from various unions and others gathered Wednesday for Middlesex County’s Workers Memorial Day Commemoration.

The ceremony, which opened with a color guard procession and ended with a benediction, was held at the construction site of the future David B. Crabiel Hall on the campus of the Middlesex County College in Edison.

“While progress has been made in reducing the number of workplace accidents and illnesses, there is still much more that needs to be done, as evidenced by the events in West Virginia,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios, referring to the deaths of 29 miners in the April 5 disaster at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. “We each have a responsibility to workplace safety and employers especially have an obligation to ensure that the working conditions in their facilities are the safest and healthiest they can be.”

Workers Memorial Day was established nationally in 1989 and commemorated each year on April 28.

“This gathering will raise awareness of the dangers that still exist in the workplace, and hopefully will inspire us to ensure the health and safety of all our workers in whatever job or industry they work,” said Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano.

The freeholders were joined by Patricia Jones, director of the Avenel office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, and Thomas Tighe, Middlesex County AFL-CIO Labor Council President.

The day also marks the anniversary of the founding of OSHA on April 28, 1971 and serves as a tribute to those who have helped lead the fight to improve conditions and safety practices throughout the nation.

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