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‘It changes your entire life’

April 25, 2013

Workplace safety affects more than workers and employers – its impact is felt at home, too.

During a recent teleconference sponsored by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, members of two families spoke about loved ones who were killed on the job.

In a soft voice that at times seemed to tremble, Adriana Martinez described how her husband died on the job four years ago. Orestes Martinez was helping install a 2-ton lead-lined door, which was being moved by hand because no lift was available. The door crushed him.

“My life has completely changed because of a bad decision, because someone put a price tag on my husband,” Adriana said. “They chose to cut corners and put profits ahead of my husband’s life. And what hurts the most is that his death was preventable.”

Katherine Rodriguez lost her father in 2004. Katherine’s father, who worked as a pipefitter for more than 30 years, and two other workers were sprayed with 500° F water when a seal burst in a Texas refinery. The men suffered burns to more than 70 percent of their bodies. The other two men lived, but Katherine’s father died after spending two-and-a-half months in a hospital.

“There are no words to describe the impact this loss has had on my family,” she said. “It changes your entire life.”

Since the deaths of their loved ones, both women have taken a proactive approach. Adriana joined the COSH network, and is now a health and safety intern. Katherine is a board member at United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, a support group for people who have lost loved ones in job-related incidents.

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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