By Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios
Every year, millions of men and women lose their lives or suffer debilitating illnesses or injuries while at work. To honor these workers, Workers’ Memorial Day was established nationally in 1989 and is commemorated each year on April 28.
In honor of this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day, Middlesex County held a special ceremony in New Brunswick on Friday, April 27 to recognize those who have been injured or killed on the job over the past year, and to focus on the importance and need for better health and safety conditions in the workplace. The event was held at the future site of the New Brunswick Wellness Plaza.
Worker safety is very near and dear to my heart because I lost two of my union brothers on the job. Both were great friends, colleagues and men. Eddie was killed in an accident and Charlie died from an illness due to workplace hazards. Their deaths had a deep and lasting impact on both my life and my work. So, it is with great passion that I commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day each year and continue to campaign for ongoing inspections and safety programs in the workplace.
We also can not forget that just a few weeks ago Michael Simermeyer, a construction worker in Manhattan, was killed when a crane collapsed. He, like many others, was killed in the daily course of his day, trying to provide for his family.
The time to act is not after the loss of a hard, dedicated worker but before the accident takes place. And though major improvements in worker safety have been made through the years, we must, as a nation and as a community, persevere with job safety programs. We need to ensure that every work environment is made a safer and healthier place for current and future employees.