Workers' Memorial Day

In observance of Workers' Memorial Day on April 28, cities across the country and around the world held events that honored workers who were injured or lost their lives while on the job.

In Los Angeles, the Southern California Collation for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalOSH), UCLA-LOSH and WORKSAFE held a public funeral procession through the city to honor fallen workers.

In Silver Spring, Md., the National Labor College (NCL) hosted a groundbreaking on a national memorial honoring fallen workers. According to NCL, when the memorial is completed, it will be comprised of thousands of bricks, each engraved with the name, date of death and union/occupation of a worker who died on the job.

In Burlington, Vt., Mayor Bob Kiss hosted a press conference with the Vermont Workers' Center (VWC), where family members and individuals who were impacted by an on-the-job death, injury or illness gave a speech.

Workers' Memorial Day, often known as World Day for Safety and Health at Work outside of the United States, also is honored on an international scale. This year, the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Labour Organization (ILO) observed the day by issuing a new report for managing workplace risks and reducing injuries and illnesses.

The document, titled “My Life, My Work, My Safe Work: Managing Risk in the Work Environment,” lists risk management techniques and actions to control risks.

Other countries hosted numerous events and activities to mark Workers' Memorial Day. A street campaign in Moscow highlighted occupational safety and health, and the country held its first congress of occupational safety and health specialists. Furthermore, a workplace safety and health training workshop was organized in Indonesia, and a conference in the Philippines pushed for the ratification of ILO Convention 187 on a Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health. And in Bangkok, a photo exhibition titled “Celebrating Working Lives: Decent Work, Better Tomorrow” highlighted worker safety issues.

According to ILO, 2.2 million people worldwide die from work-related accidents and diseases every year, and work-related deaths appear to be on the rise. An estimated 270 million people annually suffer non-fatal, work-related accidents resulting in at least three days absence from work, and an additional 160 million people are inflicted with work-related illnesses.

Revised figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics point out that there were 5,840 fatal work injuries in the United States in 2006, an increase of 106 deaths from 2005's workplace fatality count of 5,734.

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