Workers Speak Out for Safer Jobs on Workers' Memorial Day

Thousands of workers in dozens of cities will mark Workers'\r\nMemorial Day, April 28, to remember workers killed or injured on the\r\njob.

Thousands of workers in dozens of cities will mark Workers'' Memorial Day, April 28, to remember workers killed or injured on the job.

Workers and local activists will hold a range of events on Saturday, including memorial services, candlelight vigils, educational workshops, conferences, marches and rallies.

According to AFL-CIO, many of the events this year will also shine a spotlight on the need for stronger health and safety protections in the workplace by demanding President Bush, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and members of Congress develop a new federal OSHA ergonomics standard.

Today, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will join member of Congress and injured workers on Capitol Hill at a press conference to call on the Bush administration to develop a new standard.

On Thursday, AFL-CIO officials and injured workers will testify at a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education on the need for an ergonomics standard.

Chao is also scheduled to testify at the hearing.

"There is an urgent need for a new standard. And it''s a scandal that the President and Republican congressional leaders continue to drag their feet," said Sweeney. "Each week, 35,000 workers are found to have job-related repetitive stress injuries. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if a strong job safety standard had been in place."

Saturday, AFL-CIO will release its annual report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect; a State-by-State Profile of Worker Safety and Health in the United States." The report provides the number of work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses in each state in 1999, the latest data available from the Department of Labor.

Overall, 6,000 workers died from on-the-job injuries in 1999 nationally, 50,000 died from occupational diseases, and all jobsite injuries totaled 5.7 million, according to the Labor Department''s latest figures.

The first Workers'' Memorial Day was observed in 1989. This year, April 28 is especially significant because it commemorates the 30th anniversary of the establishment of OSHA.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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