Every day, 12 workers die on the job across America. As the nation's secretary of labor, I am surrounded by numbers about jobs, the labor market and about the economy more broadly. But the number 12 stays with me. It is a haunting reminder of the hard-working Americans we lose every day, often in the prime of their life, filled with the energy that we need to build a better world.
Sheri Sangji was one of these Americans, so full of promise. She was a 23-year-old research assistant in a lab at the University of California at Los Angeles, looking forward to a career that would allow her to pursue her interests in chemistry, law and the rights of women and immigrants. One day, while performing an experiment with highly reactive chemicals, a flash fire ignited her clothes and skin, causing fatal burns. Sheri had not been properly trained in the handling of the chemical that set off the blaze. I later met her family, a loving and tight-knit group of people. The weight of their loss was nearly unbearable. I think about them every day.
To remember Sheri Sangji and all others who die on the job across our country, we observe Workers Memorial Day every April 28. Today, we remember families who have lost a loved one because of workplace injuries, and we pledge to continue fighting tirelessly to make sure that no worker trades a life for a livelihood.