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Half the workers killed in Washington are over 50

Worker Memorial Day, the day Washington State honors people who lost their lives on the job, is this Thursday.


Fifty-eight people died in workplace accidents last year in Washington state.

But here’s the mystery: Half of the workplace deaths involved people over the age of 50.

That number has been trending upward in Washington. In 2010, only about a third of the state’s workplace deaths involved older workers. The AFLCIO labor federation says this is a national trend.

Peg Seminario is the federation’s director of safety and health. She says workers over 65 have been putting off retirement.

Seminario: “Their employment is increasing, but so is their fatality rate. And they now have a fatality rate that is three times the overall fatality rate.”

In Washington state, the Department of Labor and Industries says the increase in older worker deaths is not fully understood.

These aren’t people having heart attacks in their chairs. These are people who are dying in falls, car crashes, or accidents with machines -- accidents that could happen to anybody.

The Worker Memorial Day ceremony will be held in Tumwater. Governor Jay Inslee is expected to be there.

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