Family of industrial accident victim Jason Burden keep his memory alive on Workers' Memorial Day

The family of a young South Shields man who died in an industrial accident in Sunderland laid a wreath at a service to remember all those killed or injured in the workplace.

Nineteen-year-old Jason Burden was in the final year of an apprenticeship at Tyne Slipway and Engineering company, at South Docks, Sunderland, when a piece of shipping machinery fell and crushed him on December 8, 2011.

The family of Jason Burden, dad Trevor, mum Maria and sister Rachel, lay a wreath at Hartlepool's Workers Memorial Day Service.

The family of Jason Burden, dad Trevor, mum Maria and sister Rachel, lay a wreath at Hartlepool's Workers Memorial Day Service.

His parents Trevor and Maria Burden, and sister Rachel laid the first wreath at a Workers' Memorial Day service in Hartlepool on Sunday which was attended by senior trade unionists and local civic dignitaries on Sunday.

Mr Burden said: "We have been most years since 2011 when we lost Jason.

"It is special for us because we get the opportunity to lay a wreath for every other family that has lost a loved one and give us the chance to keep Jason's memory alive.

"It shines a spotlight on how important health and safety is in the workplace and the consequences when there are shortcuts like in our case."

Jason Burden

Jason Burden

An inquest into Jason's death heard how a heavy piece of machinery he was working on at the time of his accident had not been secured with wooden chocks.

Tyne Slipway and Engineering was later fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £47,936 at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading guilty to failing to discharge a duty under health and safety laws.

Jason's family also tell his story at other events around the country including at local colleges and to Families Against Corporate Killers.

Speakers at the service in Hartlepool included TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady, USDAW President Amy Murphy and former UNISON President Dave Anderson.

The annual service once again emphasised the message to remember the dead and to fight for workers' rights to ensure their safety.

Ms O'Grady said to Jason's family: "It's very humbling to be among people who have lost family members. I hope you draw strength from the support and solidarity in this room because we are with you and we will always be with you."

The theme of this year's Workers' Memorial Day was dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace. The long-term lung condition asbestosis from workplace exposure is said to be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths worldwide.

Workplace stress is also responsible for millions of lost days and is linked to deaths from heart disease, cancers and suicide.

Trade union speakers said the movement was key to ensuring employers take health and safety seriously and to stand up for workers.

Dave Anderson, former Unison President, said: "Today reminds people how important health and safety is.

"It's appalling the way in which people have allowed health and safety to almost become the butt of a joke.

"People who are responsible for people's lives need to up their game and recognise that health and safety is in everybody's interest."

And Amy Murphy of USDAW said: "Every death, whether it's caused directly by accidents or indirectly by poor working conditions, is one too many.

"It doesn't have to be this way."