Fallen NH workers commemorated amid calls for worker safety

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Samantha Wooten, who lost her father in 2016 in a workplace accident, and her daughter Grace, regard NH COSH as a second family. Photo/Laura Aronson

HOOKSETT, NH – The lives of 11 New Hampshire workers killed on the job in 2017 were commemorated April 24 in Hooksett during the annual NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) Memorial Dinner at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall. Families of fallen workers, local and state officials, labor leaders and others leading the movement to end unsafe work conditions attended.

NHCOSH board members, from left, Brian Mitchell, Rick “Dude” Rothwell, Samantha Wooten, Judy Stadtman, Avis Crane, Susan M. Allen-Samuel, Alfred Bouchard, Susi Nord. Photo/Laura Aronson

Samantha Wooten lost her father, Tom Wooten at age 56 in 2016, after which she joined the NHCOSH board of directors. Tom Wooten, who worked for the Northfield Department of Public Works, was crushed between a tractor and the trailer it was hauling two vehicles.

She testified in November for a bill (since voted down) sponsored by Manchester Rep. Mark MacKenzie (D-17)  that defined workplace violence and workplace injuries, and required that deaths and serious injuries in the workplace be reported to the commissioner of labor. Because her father worked in the public sector, there was no OSHA investigation, remedial action requirement, or safety citation. His death highlighted the gap between private employment, subject to OSHA policies, and public employment does not.  

NH State Repesentatives Linda DiSilvestro of Manchester and Dianne Schallet of Pembroke and Chichester. Photo/Laura Aronson

“COSH is like a second family, very loving and supportive. For this year’s new families, it’s hard, but I tell them they will learn there are people here to support them,” Wooten said.

On Thursday at noon, NHCOSH will host a vigil at City Plaza in Concord to honor the 11 NH workers and to call for policies that recognize that all workers are valuable and important to commerce, the economy and civic life. The events are part of the International Workers’ Memorial Week, April 22 – 28.

Susi Nord of the NHCOSH board said, “We do a lot for both union and non-union members. We train vulnerable workers, young people, and immigrants in high risk occupations. They learn about basic safety, their rights in the workplace, and much more.”

About Carol Robidoux 5815 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.