ADA — Each evening as Pat Archer left for work, his wife, Mary Archer, would tell him the same thing:
Pat Archer would respond, “Always!”
Still, Pat Archer, a skilled tradesman at Ford Motor Co.’s Lima Engine Plant, didn’t return from the 6 p.m to 6 a.m. shift that he took to afford him more time with his family back in November 2021. Pat Archer, 50, was the victim of a workplace accident.
“People need to stop taking their safety for granted. If caution and prevention were made a priority, we could avoid these incidents,” Mary Archer said. “Safety needs to be (prioritized) above production and profit. It needs to be a (top) priority.”
Now Pat Archer’s face and story are part of the “Face Campaign Tributes” for the United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, a national grassroots, family-based, not-for-profit organization established in 2007. Eight billboards in Allen and Hardin counties bearing Pat’s photo are being used to heighten awareness of workplace fatalities. The billboards bear the message, “Because going to work should not be a grave mistake.”
More than a number
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s slogan, “Every worker is more than a number,” is a reminder that each of the 5,190 workers who died on the job in 2021 represents a family member whose loss is grieved. These statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor mean that a worker died every 101 minutes that year from an occupational-related injury. The highest fatality rates are seen for workers 55 to 64 years of age.
“In the past, the term ‘accident’ was often used when referring to an unplanned, unwanted event,” according to osha.gov. “To many, ‘accident’ suggests an event that was random and could not have been prevented. Since nearly all worksite fatalities, injuries and illnesses are preventable, OSHA suggests using the term ‘incident’ investigation.”
The USMWF wants to go a step further, believing “the greatest casualty is to be forgotten.” The three-fold mission of the organization is honoring fallen workers, supporting those left behind, and providing education to prevent further incidents.
“(Being the widow of someone who died in a work-related incident) is an unwanted and unforeseen purpose of mine now,” Mary Archer said. “I never thought he wouldn’t come home.”
Pat Archer’s death occurred shortly after his shift began on Nov. 3, 2021.
The OSHA citation involved “the control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout),” according to the OSHA website. A company citation was issued April 12, 2022, with the citation contested on May 5, 2022, the most recent entry.
According to Mary Archer, her husband of 20 years died at the scene, with his body later transported to Toledo for an autopsy.
Workers Memorial Day
On Friday, OSHA and the nation recognized Workers Memorial Day. The day “honors those who lost their lives on the job and recognizes the impact these tragic losses have on families, co-workers and communities,” according to osha.org, “It also affirms OSHA’s commitment to worker safety and health.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted have signed a proclamation recognizing April 28 as Workers’ Memorial Day.
On Thursday, the Workers Memorial Day ceremony was held in the Great Hall at the U.S. Department of Labor building, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Mary Archer said her children “have the honor of laying the wreath this year.”
Mary Archer is also planning a softball game Sept. 2 at the Ada War Memorial Park in memory of Pat. Because the couple initially met at a softball game, she thought it would be a fitting tribute to her late husband. The goal of the softball tournament is to raise funds in Pat’s memory for a scholarship fund to aid students at Ada High School, Allen East High School and Apollo JVS who are interested in pursuing a career in skilled trades.
A changed life
Mary Archer, who has six children, described a lot of the changes in her life since the death of her husband, whose fatal injuries occurred when their youngest child was 8 years old.
“I have taken each day as it comes. I’ve had to juggle all of their activities (alone),” she said.
She then added, “My kids save me every day. They have the best parts of him. They are supportive of each other. They are what keep me sane.”
Mary Archer wants to do her part to encourage workers, “Be safe.” Patrick Archer would likely add, “Always.”