Workers’ Memorial Day was observed by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), OSHA, and other stakeholders yesterday in Baton Rouge during a ceremony which included a tree dedication and several speeches by Baton Rouge officials.
Participants gathered on the lawn of the Baton Rouge City Court building on the morning of Wednesday, April 25th to honor and remember fallen workers and to celebrate Louisiana’s successes in lowering workplace injuries and deaths.
Speakers during the event included Corey Gaines, OSHA Consultation Manager for the LWC; Ernest Stephens, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge chapter of AFL-CIO; Ava Dejoie, Executive Director of the LWC; and Dorinda Folse, OSHA Area Director. However, the highlight was the keynote address, delivered by Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, who took office in 2017 and is the first woman elected to hold the office. During her introduction of the mayor, Ava Dejoie noted Broome’s long history of public service in Louisiana and her recent recognition on the Essence Magazine 100 list, saying that, “Essence found out what Louisiana has known for a long time.”
Mayor Broome touted the City of Baton Rouge’s effort to implement OSHA standards for public works employees, one of the only cities in the nation to do so. “It is a goal for both private and public sector organizations to have an accident-free workplace, and we strive every day to provide that type of safe, hazard-free environment for all of our employees,” Broome declared. She thanked Louisiana’s lawmakers, public employees, and private employers for their part in making Louisiana the state with the lowest workplace injury rate in the country.
Broome also cited several years of East Baton Rouge Parish statistics that reveal a steep decline in injuries. She noted that in 2014, there were 81 injuries reported for Baton Rouge city workers. In 2017, after Broome says her administration “started to build a culture of workplace safety,” that number fell to 45 injuries.
Despite those impressive numbers, Broome warned against complacency: “With the dedication of this memorial tree, we look back and we honor where we have come from, by recognizing the many employees who have served our city and our parish. And we also look forward to an environment of continuous improvement with the adoption in East Baton Rouge Parish of federal OSHA workplace safety standards. To our employees, thank you for all you do on a daily basis, it does not go unnoticed.”
Mayor Broome then posed for a photo opportunity with a group of about 15 public works employees in bright yellow safety vests in front of the memorial tree. An elevated plaque in front of the tree reads:
This tree is dedicated to recognize workers killed or injured in the workplace and for those who have died or are suffering as a result of work related diseases.
By order of Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, East Baton Rouge City Parish