'He really missed out on a lot:' Jacksonville widow works to prevent work-related deaths

Memorial for those killed at work

A Jacksonville woman is trying to prevent work-related deaths after she lost her husband on El Faro nearly four years ago.

Rochelle Hamm said not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about her husband, Frank Hamm.

“We have a set of twins, and my two last kids graduated," Hamm said. "My daughter made prom queen and she made vice president of her class. He really missed out on a lot."

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Her husband was among 33 people who died when the ship bound for Puerto Rico sank during Hurricane Joaquin.

On Friday, Hamm shared her story in front of dozens of people wearing purple ribbons at the Florida Safety Council. They remembered 32 men and women who lost their lives while working in North Florida last year.

The Northeast Florida Safety Council says that number more than doubled from 14 people who were killed in work-related incidents in 2017.

Hamm says those tragedies and the one that killed her husband could have been prevented with more oversight from companies.

“It just bothers me, when I had to read in the transcripts. My husband, you know, he didn’t even have a life vest on. He was screaming and crying out for two life vests. He was a man of size so I know they didn’t have one to fit him, you know, and that was a problem for me,” Hamm said.

Hamm says she’s now working to prevent workplace accidents by calling for company accountability.

“My husband always talked about traveling the world and making money, but no one talks about safety,” she said.

Last year, she helped pass the Hamm Alert Maritime Safety Law in honor of her late husband to stop commercial ships from going out to sea in dangerous situations including hurricanes.

The Northeast Florida Safety Council told Action News Jax that the majority of work place related deaths in 2018 involved hurricane cleanup or construction jobs.