Prayers and Condolences

I would like to extend a big huge hug to a friend of mine who lost a member of her family. My heart goes out to you and your whole family.

I would like to express my condolences to the family of Creative Paper Company employee David Gonzalez, Worcester, MA. David was pulled into a paper spooling machine and killed yesterday during his twelve hour shift at work. My father and my brother both work at paper factories, my father making corrugated and my brother making envelopes. Five years ago my brother had his hand caught in a machine and had to have parts of two fingers amputated. What happened to David Gonzalez is a factory worker’s family’s worst nightmare. The thing is, usually, things like this could be prevented by safety guards on the machines. The machines have safety guards. But the companies tell the workers not to use them because it slows production down. They also encourage injured employees not to report small injuries, and not to file to collect workman’s comp, etc. so that things won’t be investigated by OSHA (my brother’s company actually has pizza parties if no one “gets hurt” over a certain period of time. That is to say, if no one REPORTS that they were hurt). My brother never got a cent for his injury, because he chose to keep his job and have a reliable income, rather than receive compensation for an injury that will cause him lifelong pain, and could eventually make him not able to work anymore. If he filed, the company would find ways of firing him. And since word gets around, other companies in that field would hear that he was a troublemaker, and not hire him. My brother has three small children. He needs his job. I don’t know how David Gonzalez was pulled into the machine, but if it was a result of negligence on the company’s part, I hope his death will help others stay safe, with OSHA passing stricter guidelines on safety guards. Yes, they have laws now. But that doesn’t help when as soon as they walk out the door after their inspections, the guards come right off.

Factory workers are great guys. They are the people who keep this country running, who supply us with the things that we take for granted every day, the things that if we were without them, we would be lost. Please, let’s take better care of them!

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5 thoughts on “Prayers and Condolences

  1. This sounds so Dickensian! I’m outraged that any company would allow these kinds of unsafe practices. Don’t they fear being shut down? I know, I know, there’s always someone standing in line, willing to do the work regardless of the safety practices. But isn’t that what unions are for, to keep these things from happening? What makes me sad is no measure of safety instilled in the factory now will bring David Gonzalez back. It may save a life or someone’s quality of life, but for how long will they follow the safety guidelines? This man lost his life so the factory could have higher production numbers. Sorry – that’s too high a cost! It’s very sad. Doesn’t the factory’s negligence mean they are guilty of manslaughter?Sorry. Rambling. Lately, I’ve been a bit touchy about the injustices in the world.

  2. See, I’m not sure how the unions work. My brother’s work has a union I think, but if the workers don’t mind something, then they don’t do anything about it. If it means that the workers will make less money, they aren’t going to complain about something. And yes, the workers would rather have the money. They don’t think any of these accidents can happen to them, you know? And even when they do happen..I don’t know. They don’t want to be responsible for lay offs or cuts in pay.But many of the factories around here don’t have unions, so that takes care of that question.The factory would only be in trouble if OSHA could prove negligence. Have fun with that. Plus, i mean, I don’t know, in this particular case, if negligence was involved, but I grew up seeing these machines work (my dad’s mill I think is pretty good about the safety equipment), and yes, accidents could happen, but it’s damn hard. But when you work 12 hours a day, five or six days a week, like my brother does, you get tired and sloppy, and things like that happen.In my college days, I used to be all up in arms about this stuff. Unfortunately, after a lot of time talking to people and being around them, it’s not as cut and dry as “worker’s rights.” Many workers just want to be able to feed their families, and yes, it’s noble to want to make it safe for them, but at the same time, they themselves would say, “thanks but no thanks,” if it means cutting their pay. It’s a dirty world.

  3. My husband has a friend who worked in a bowling alley and was resetting pins or something and got his arm caught in the pin setter somehow – went through worker’s comp, et cetera for all his medical stuff and even after all that when he applied for disability they only ranked him as being something like 5% disabled. What this translates to is that whatever he would earn from disability pay (SSI or SSD) would only be calculated at 5% of the rate of pay (that is $5 on every $100 compensated) because they didn’t qualify him for full disability (he lost use of his right hand and his arm but the disability is minor since he still has use of all his other extremities and full truncal motion). I think this is one reason that accidents in plants like this don’t get reported even if they use all the safety measures available; the disability pay would be nothing compared to what the workers can make working full time. They not only lose out on their paycheck but they would lose out on some benefits as well. So the workers have to decide whether to lose income and benefits and not work or do something different or stay in the current position, working full-time with benefits and then limiting their own function based on injuries (taking more breaks, retraining to use other hand or whatever is necessary to keep them in the plant).My condolences and prayers go to all the families who have members who have been in this situation and those who have lost family members to such tragedies. E 🙂

  4. I finished Fast Food Nation about a month ago, and this story sounded *exactly* like the stories of factory workers in the slaughterhouse/meat processing plants. Same financial reasons for failure to implement/maintain protective measures and devices. Same method of squelching reports of injuries. And the same tragic results. 😦

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