South Dakota Honors Employees Killed in the Workplace

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – “Memorial Day” is observed nation-wide every May, to remember those who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Today, South Dakota is observing a different type of Memorial Day, by honoring those who died in the workplace, and to using worker deaths as lessons to improve workplace safety.

“The takeaway from worker memorial day is that workplace fatalities are 100 percent preventable. That there are steps that employers can take to address the serious hazards that their employees might be exposed to,” said Sheila Stanley, Area Director of the Sioux Falls Area OSHA Office.

South Dakota’s first Workers’ Memorial Day is an emotional one for Mike Adams, the President and CEO of Canton’s ADAMS Thermal Systems.

ADAMS lost an employee in a workplace accident in 2011.

“While I didn’t really want to be here, those are painful thoughts and memories I felt it was really important because this can really help others to maintain a safer workplace,” said Adams.

While difficult, he says the accident was a learning experience.

His business has since implemented additional safety measures; above OSHA’s required standards.

“Sometimes we can become complacent and we really have to fight against that and remember those that we lost and use that as everyday remember why that we continue to strive for safer and safer workplaces,” said Adams.

Giving a call to action to other business owners to make safety their number one priority:

“Take it more seriously than you take anything else in your company. Do what you do best, but do it as if lives depend on you. Because, they do,” said Adams.

According to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 31 South Dakota workers died on the job in 2016.

Some of the most common industries for work-related fatalities are construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

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