Summary: Even though he was feeling sick from COVID-19, a man who couldn’t afford to lose his job continued to show up for work. Eventually, he was so ill that he collapsed on the production line.
The incident: While he was laboring in close proximity to his coworkers along the production line at Briggs & Stratton, Wauwatosa, WI, Mike Jackson, 45, started to feel ill. Even though he suspected that he might have COVID-19, Jackson was hesitant to tell his boss that he was getting sick.
For one thing, Jackson wasn’t sure whether he’d be paid for the time off. Plus, he was concerned that he’d accumulate too many attendance points and get fired. So he shouldered on.
Despite his best efforts, however, Jackson couldn’t keep going. Finally, he passed out while laboring on the production line.
The response: Jackson was admitted to the hospital, but his chances of survival weren’t great because he had several underlying conditions, including obesity.
Several days later, Jackson was declared dead from COVID-19.
The aftermath: Because Jackson had been involved in organizing for better working conditions at the Briggs & Stratton plant, Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee-based immigrant and worker advocacy group, held a press conference to highlight his death and the alleged failures of Briggs & Stratton to keep him safe.
Voces de la Frontera also sent a letter to Briggs & Stratton officials demanding that the company provide paid time off for employees who might have the coronavirus.
The letter came too late for Jackson, who left behind a fiancé and eight children.
“He was a great father,” said Jackson’s son Kavonte. “I really do miss him.”
(From the Aug. 24, 2020, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To download the current issue of the publication right now, please click here.)