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Services honor construction workers who died on the job

Dozens of workers in the building trades, industry managers and the families of construction workers who have died on the job marched through the state Capitol in Madison on Thursday as part of Workers' Memorial Day.

Construction workers and friends and family walk through the streets of Madison on Thursday as part of Workers’ Memorial Day. (Staff photo by Erika Strebel)

Dozens of workers in the building trades, industry managers and the families of construction workers who have died on the job marched through the state Capitol in Madison on Thursday as part of Workers’ Memorial Day.

Some of them traveled from out of state to attend. Kelly Hagenson and her family drove more than 100 miles for the event from Sheridan, Ill. Her stepson, Kelsey Hagenson, of Stanley, died Sept. 21, while working on the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge, which stretches across the St. Louis River, separating Superior, Wis., from Duluth, Minn.

Kelsey Hagenson, 18, was a laborer on the project and worked for Black River Falls-based Lunda Construction. His name was among the five read at a memorial service Thursday afternoon honoring construction workers who were injured or died on the job.

“It’s a great event for the families,” Kelly Hagenson said. “It brings everyone together to honor their loved-ones.”

Kelly Hagenson and her family were among a group of more than 50 people who marched from Monona Terrace in Madison to St. Patrick’s Church, where the Wisconsin Building Trades and Construction Building Group hosted a memorial service for construction workers on Thursday.

The march and service were just some of events across the state honoring workers.

On Thursday morning in Madison, workers’ rights groups read the names of Wisconsin workers who died in the past year.

In Milwaukee, workers’ rights groups read the names of workers injured or killed on the job in 2015, with guest speakers scheduled Thursday evening in Ziedler Union Square Park. Other events were planned Thursday night in Menomonie, Wausau, Rhinelander and La Crosse.

Deaths in construction-related jobs top the list of work-related deaths.

In 2014, there were 4,679 deaths from workplace injuries across all industries, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those fatal injuries, nearly 19 percent (874 deaths) were in the construction industry. Most of the deaths occurred in trades such as masonry, roofing and glazing.

According to the bureau, the 2014 tally for construction deaths is the highest reported for the industry since 2008.

About Erika Strebel

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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