workplace deaths
5:21 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Missouri honors workers who died on the job in 2011

Missouri workers who lost their lives on the job were remembered today at a Workers' Memorial Day ceremony at the State Capitol.

More than 130 family members of workers who lost their lives attended the ceremony, including Steffenie Quinlan from Bolivar.  Her husband, John, was a laborer who was electrocuted while on the job.

“I am very pleased that they honor(ed) them," Quinlan said.  "Everyone that’s worked on the job and died on the job should be honored.”

State labor officials say 117 people lost their lives last year while at work.  The ceremony also paid tribute to workers who died in Joplin when their places of employment were struck by the F-5 tornado that ravaged the town nearly a year ago.  Mo. Department of Labor Director Larry Rebman recalled the actions of Christopher Lucas, who was the manager on duty at a Joplin Pizza Hut.

“He heard the massive tornado outside the restaurant," Rebman said.  "Christopher quickly gathered the employees and customers, and directed them to a walk-in freezer for shelter.  Once the tornado hit, the freezer door would not stay shut…Christopher grabbed a bungee cord, wrapped one end around the door handle and wrapped the other around himself…he lost his life, but because of his sacrifice, 15 people lived to tell his tale.”

Rebman also credited the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) for reducing workplace deaths by one-third of what they were 40 years ago.