More than two dozen workers in Alaska were killed on the job in 2015. On Thursday, people gathered at the Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial to honor those men and women for Workers Memorial Day.


“All I can say is that I will never forget Samuel, and you and your family and I vow and our staff vows to fight every single day to make sure that never happens again,” said Department of Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas at the memorial service.


It was an emotional day for her as she spoke to the friends and family of Samuel Morgan. The 23-year-old man was killed in a construction accident on June 16, 2015 when a trench collapsed on him.


Drygas said his employer, Hartman Construction, failed to take safety measures to secure the area where he was working.


“After the unsecured trench walls collapsed, Mr. Morgan’s employer attempted to free him using construction equipment and killed him in the process,” she said.


Samuel left behind his wife of 2 years, Cassie Morgan. Cassie said via email that her husband had a kind heart, was an ambitious dreamer and a good man.


“In losing him we also lost all of our future dreams: having children, exploring the world and growing old together. A bright light was put out that day,” Cassie wrote. “Although he doesn’t have the ability to influence the world with his presence, I am hopeful that his life, ethics, morals and values will continue to shine light on what needs to happen. To be a lighthouse in the storm regarding workplace safety. We must stand together to advocate for continued improvement to change this unsafe culture we’ve all been so deeply affected by. Hopefully in doing so, we can prevent further heartache. I’d also like to thank AKOSHA and the DON for all of their support and relentless efforts during this difficult time. A special thanks to Heidi Drygas and Ron Anderson for their sincere kindness and support.”


Commissioner Drygas said Samuel’s death reinforces the need for increased safety practices and that companies shouldn’t sacrifice the health of their workers by cutting corners.


“Our work is important, valuable and necessary in order to ensure that there isn’t another headline like Samuel Morgan and another widow left behind because of something so senseless,” Drygas said.


The Department of Labor fined Hartman Construction the maximum allowable by law, $560,000, for failing to adhere to safety standards.


Drygas said the goal of Workers Memorial Day is to put safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind and to make sure every person who leaves for work in the morning is able to return to their family every night.


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