Workers Memorial Day

April 28th is Workers Memorial Day – a day specially assigned to recognizes workers who died or sustained work-related injuries or illnesses during the previous year.

According to the CDC, in 2008, over 5,000 workers died from occupational injuries. Also in this year, an estimated 3.7 million workers in private industry and 940,000 in state and local government had a nonfatal occupational injury or illness with between 40-50% of these workers being transferred, placed on work restrictions or had absenteeism from work.

Although today marks the 40th anniversary of Workers Memorial Day, President Obama is the first president to proclaim the memorial. Said the President, “…Most workplace deaths result from tragedies that claim one life at a time through preventable incidents or disabling disease. Every day, 14 workers are killed in on-the-job incidents, while thousands die each year of work-related disease, and millions are injured or contract an illness. Most die far from the spotlight, unrecognized and unnoticed by all but their families, friends, and co-workers — but they are not forgotten.”

The day is also recognized internationally as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. EU OSHA estimates between 2.3 million worker fatalities occur annually in workplaces across the globe, however this is higher due to weaknesses in reporting systems in many developing countries.  New attention should be directed to the emerging risks at work including new technologies (e.g. nanomaterials) and changing patterns of employment (e.g. downsizing, subcontracting, migrant workers and attaining a healthy work-life balance).

InjuryFree recognizes the hard work, physical labor and sacrifices both employees and employers across the globe have contributed to a sustainable today and positive tomorrow.

Today, let’s take some time to commemorate those workers who have lost their lives or have survived injury from an act of labor in the workplace. Let’s also spend some time thinking about prevention – what can be done to prevent catastrophic injuries from happening? Prevention is everybody’s responsibility. Let’s keep prevention top of mind today, and every day to protect our workers.

To read President Obama’s Proclamation, click here.