SAFETY CORNER: USMWF – An Advocate for Workers and Families

National Safety Director, Scotty MacNeill

As a recent addition to the board of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF), I find myself reflecting on the crucial role this organization plays in the lives of those who have tragically lost loved ones due to workplace incidents. The reality is stark: when a workplace fatality occurs, the usual investigative process involves the union, OSHA, and the company, but all too often, the family of the worker is left out of the equation.

USMWF steps in to fill this gap. It’s a non-profit organization that provides essential support and guidance to families during OSHA investigations, ensuring they are informed about their rights, assisting them in tracking the progress of investigations, and offering continuous updates along the way. It’s a vital infrastructure, offering assistance during a time of profound distress, one we fervently hope no one ever has to endure.

Being nominated to the board of USMWF has given me a unique opportunity to contribute to its operations and ensure that the voices of workers and their families are heard. I am proud to join other dedicated union board members, including Rebecca Reindel from the AFL-CIO, Steve Sallman from the Steelworkers (USW), and Micki Siegal de Hernandez from the Communications Workers (CWA), in this important endeavor.

USMWF operates as a national, family-based grassroots organization, providing support, guidance, and resources to those affected by work-related injuries, illnesses, and diseases. Through its collective efforts, it aims to advocate for change at both the federal and state levels, working to improve workplace health, safety, and victim rights.

Over the years, USMWF has made significant strides in its mission. From collaborating with federal OSHA to establish directives on communication with victims’ families to contributing to the creation of new safety standards, such as the Crane and Derrick standard, its impact has been tangible. It has also supported legislative efforts across various states, advocating for improved workers’ compensation provisions and increased penalties for workplace safety violations.

Its work, however, extends beyond legislative and regulatory advocacy. It provides a platform for family members of victims to share their stories, testify at hearings, and raise awareness about workplace safety issues. Through collective advocacy efforts, it strives to prevent future tragedies and ensure that no family has to endure the pain of losing a loved one due to a preventable workplace incident.

Founded by family members who have experienced the devastating loss of a loved one due to a workplace fatality, USMWF understands the profound impact such tragedies can have on individuals and families. It recognizes the overwhelming emotions that accompany grief and believes that no one should have to navigate this journey alone.

Each day, far too many families receive the devastating news that a loved one has been fatally injured in a preventable workplace incident. USMWF stands ready to offer support, guidance, and resources to those affected by such tragedies, ensuring that they have the tools and support they need to navigate the difficult road ahead.

Through its collective efforts, USMWF honors the memory of those we have lost by working tirelessly to prevent future workplace tragedies. In my new role on the USMWF’s board, I’m honored to bring the UWUA’s experience and voice to its efforts to create safer, healthier workplaces for all workers, ensuring that no family experiences the pain of losing a loved one due to a preventable workplace incident.

If you want to know more, or know someone who could benefit from USMWF’s services, its president, Rena Harrington, is reachable at or 978.223.0946.