Cedar Rapids ceremony honors workers killed, injured on the job

Attendees call for greater focus on workplace inspections

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Working families, politicians, and local officials gathered Sunday to remember those who have been injured and killed on the job in Iowa.

During a memorial held at 831 Machinist Hall, 222 Prospect Place SW in Cedar Rapids, officials read the names of the 46 Iowans who have been killed in work-related accidents within the last year, discussed the history of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and reminded the public that a lot of work remains to be done to protect America's workers. The memorial also recognized the five Iowans who lost their lives while serving in the military in the last yaer.

"There's no way for us to know what it's like for family members to get that call they've lost a loved one," said Iowa Rep. Pat Murphy as he reflected on his son, who had both of his legs broken when a 10-ton crane rolled over his legs in 2004. "I've watched the struggle and it's has been difficult. But, let's continue to mourn the dead today and fight for the living from here on out."

During the ceremony, speakers also called for politicians to put a greater focus on promoting more legislation and regulation to help create a safer workplace, using the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas as an example of how they feel the inspection system is significantly understaffed and failing workers.

Shelly Parbs, president of the Hawkeye Labor Council, said it is estimated that there are 28 inspectors in Iowa, and it would take them 96 years to inspect every workplace.

Paul Iverson of the University of Iowa Labor Center also recognized workers killed in Linn County last year, including Kyriakos Korovilas, 66, of Cedar Rapids, who was killed when he got stuck between a piece of machinery and a safety post while working at General Mills last summer.

"Our work is not finished because deaths at work have already occurred at work this year, ensuring, unfortunately, a new list of names next year," Iverson said. 

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