Washington State Honors Fallen Workers

Each Spring, dozens gather to hear the ringing of a brass bell outside the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ headquarters in Tumwater, WA. This year, with heads bowed, those in attendance heard the chiming sound 84 times — once for every person who died from a work-related cause in 2015.

L&I Director Joel Sacks says this somber event, called Worker Memorial Day, is a “reminder that there’s still much more to do to make sure every worker in Washington returns home safely at the end of the day… We honor those who died by pledging to do everything in our power to prevent these tragedies from being repeated.”

According to L&I, the 84 workers remembered during the ceremony included: More than 50 who died of traumatic work-related incidents in, others who died from long-term lung and respiratory disease, and 14 who died before 2015 but whose deaths were not included in previous ceremonies.

Governor Jay Inslee helped open the ceremony and was followed by remarks from President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO Bob Battles, President of the Washington Self-Insurers Association Sheri Sundstorm, President of Kid’s Chance Cody Arledge, and a singing presentation from the Tumwater High School Noteables.

This year, the Washington State Patrol honored two of its own: Kenneth Lee Miller and Brent L. Hanger.

Miller served in the State Patrol for 30 years before starting a new career with Barrier Motors as a parts driver. He was 84-years-old at the time of his passing.

Detective Hanger died on August 8, 2015 after suffering from a heart attack while following up on a tip regarding a marijuana grow in Yakima County. His name was etched on the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia, Washington earlier this week; he was also honored at the WSP memorial Foundation Dinner this past weekend. He is loved and missed tremendously by all who knew him.

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After the reading of Miller, Hanger, and the 82 other names, the ceremony concluded with the friends and family of the 84 fallen workers chiming the brass bell in memory of their loved one. The names of the 84 now rest in the “Worker Memorial book” which resides in L&I’s lobby.

For more information on the event, please visit L&I’s Worker Memorial webpage at: www.WorkerMemorialDay.Lni.wa.gov.

You can also watch the entire event here: http://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2016041058/.

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