A memorial ceremony is being held at Bloomington's White Oak Park this morning to honor the men and women who's jobs cost them their lives. The names of over 200 people in McLean County are being read, each of them killed on the job, or because of their jobs. Local labor leader Mike Matejka says it safer to work in McLean county now that it was a half century ago:
"Look at pictures of people on jobs 50 years ago you don't see safety glasses, you don't see hard hats, you don't see ear plugs. You may or may not have had steel toed boots at that time period. So, there's a lot of things that have gone on in that regard. And also things like tie-offs if you're at any kind of height to make sure you're in a safety harness."
Matejka says workplace exposure to harmful substances like silica, or sand dust, is still a top safety concern:
"Anytime your cutting concrete, pouring concrete you're gonna have silica, and how do you control that exposure, how do you lesson the air-bourne material with that is a continual concern. Same way with coal miners, black lung would be another very real issue."
Matejka says non-union construction sites have higher injury and death rates than unionized ones. A joint study by UCLA, the University of Illinois, and New York's New School University shows 1 in 5 day laborers is injured on the job each day in this country, with especially heavy casualties in the construction trades.
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