Honoring Fallen Workers

April 28, 2013 Updated Apr 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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April 28, 2013 Updated Apr 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Every year, thousands of people die from injuries or illnesses they sustain at work.

Sunday morning, a memorial honored those people, including two lives lost here in Western New York.

The memorial gave recognition to every person hurt from any type of job, as well as those fighting to make workplaces safer.

But it paid a special tribute to a fallen Buffalo police officer, and a woman gunned down by her ex-boyfriend while at work.

Two bricks now serve as a small symbol of what Buffalo Police Officer Patty Parete and ECMC employee Jackie Wisniewski stand for.

Parete was shot and paralyzed while responding to a call in December of 2006. She died from her injuries just a few months ago.

Jackie Wisniewski was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend while at work at ECMC.

"There are many people who go to work and never come home," says Jackie's brother, David Wisniewski. "We just wanted to celebrate their lives."

Bagpipes played to remember Parete, Wisniewski and the many others remembered at this ceremony.

From workers exposed to chemicals to fallen first responders, the memorial service honored any employee hurt on the job.

"Many people don't understand that everyday, 13 workers die on the job," explains Germain Handen, the Executive Director of WNY Council on Occupational Safety. "When we read the names, I think the impact of reading the names -- and those numbers have quite a bit of impact."

In the last year, workplace hazards killed four thousand people nationwide, and about 125 in New York State.

While taking aim at OSHA regulations and implementations, organizers also spoke about mental health.

"You hear more and more about our cuts to mental health care," says Michael Hoffert, the President of Buffalo AFL-CIO Labor Council. "We have to be concerned about our brothers and sisters out there in society. Particularly for our first responders."

"It never gets easier to talk about," says David Wisniewski. "People always say time heels all wounds. They never went through what we go through."

There is another event coming up to pause and remember law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.

During National Police Week, several law enforcement agencies from Western New York and Southern Ontario will hold an interfaith service. It will take place on May 16th at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lewiston.