In honor of May Day/International Labor Day, we are posting the tragic story of Orestes Martinez’ death while on the job. His wife, Adriana, has graciously agreed to share her experiences with us and we are truly grateful. The story was originally posted to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health website. Adriana’s account of her husband’s death underscores, and best illustrates, why we need improved safety and health conditions for the nation’s workers, something which we here at NCLR strive to do every day.
In 2009, while working at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Adriana’s husband, Orestes Martinez was crushed in a construction accident while installing a two-ton lead door. The unwieldy and heavy door required manpower to be moved since there was no lift device available for him and his two co-workers to use. Martinez was crushed to death when the door fell on him. At just 28, Adriana found herself a widow, coping with her husband’s untimely death.
“Losing my husband, my best friend, my love has left an empty space in my heart. The pain is indescribable,” wrote Martinez in a piece for National COSH. “Nothing will ever be the same again, EVER. I have to learn how to live again, how to enjoy life, how to smile, how to be happy without feeling guilty, how to deal with this pain, how to deal with lonely nights. I need to learn how to face simple life situations, like the happiness of others, couples getting married and having babies, hearing about someone’s romantic dinner, knowing that they have someone to hold their hand and give them a hug when they are down, and knowing they still have someone to share their accomplishments and their life with. I am left with pain; my happiness was taken away from me in a matter of seconds.
“My life completely changed because someone put a price tag on my husband, because they did not do the right thing. I feel empty and broken. What hurts the most is that his death was preventable.”
“Every day I have to fight a battle. I do not want this to happen to anyone. Although this is a long and difficult journey, I have chosen to fight in his name and for others, and to make a difference in someone’s life. My fight…his fight… has just started!”
On this May Day, we salute the millions of workers around the world who work tirelessly to provide a more convenient and comfortable place to live. And, we honor those who, like Orestes, have lost their lives while just doing their job. Their memories and their legacies live on in the hearts and minds of all the citizens of the world.