WSDOT Memorial Honors Killed and Injured Workers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — On Wednesday, community and family gathered to honor fallen and injured Washington State Department of Transportation workers.

This week marks the 2019 National Work Zone Awareness Week. In Washington State, DOT worker safety remains a significant issue. According to WSDOT, 11 workers lost their lives due to work zone crashes, and 422 workers were injured just in 2018.

At the worker memorial, an honor guard of 60 WSDOT workers commemorated the service and lives of the 60 workers killed on the job in Washington since 1950.

Asked who present had been hit by a car while on the job, many workers in the room stood. Nearly the entire room rose when asked if they knew someone who had been hit.

Worker David Sacchini described his experience of being struck by a drunk driver and the far-reaching effects of the resulting post-traumatic stress.

“In addition to the physical injuries, there were also mental ones that could be long-lasting and at times harder to overcome,” said Sacchini. “I struggled with panic attacks. When I returned to work I could feel my heart beating out of my chest.”

Faced with the trauma and loss suffered by these workers, attendees and elected officials recommitted to improving the safety of DOT workers.

“We can do more for the safety of our workers and for public safety,” said Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib.

WFSE members came together in March for a DOT member summit to identify safety issues and strategize solutions. They called out the importance of working together to advocate for safer conditions, necessary equipment, and fair wages.

“We have a stronger voice for our safety when we’re united,” said Joy Draper, a maintenance lead tech and union steward from Tacoma.

The public has a significant role to play in preventing work zone deaths. The top three causes of these accidents are distracted driving, following too closely and speeding. Learn more about work zone safety here.

WSDOT Memorial 2019