American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Warren K. Brown noted that while workplaces are safer today than they were a century ago, there is more work to be done.
"In the U.S. alone, 5,840 workers died from on-the-job injuries in 2006 and millions more suffered workplace injuries and illnesses," Brown said. "These can be prevented. When someone dies on the job, we all hurt. Families, friends, and co-workers of victims of on-the-job incidents suffer intangible losses and grief. This grief lasts a lifetime. We can and do work to prevent these incidents from occurring."
According to Brown, workers and businesses should turn to their occupational safety, health and environmental safety professionals for workplace safety information, guidance, training, and more. Additionally, more businesses should adopt safety into their business culture and strategy.
In her comments about Workers Memorial Day, National Safety Council (NSC) President and CEO Janet Froetscher encouraged all Americans to take a moment to reflect on the millions of hard-working people who were injured or killed on the job and consider ways to improve today’s employee safety.
"We are indebted to those who have lost their lives in ways that illustrate where change is still needed," she said.
Change to Win Executive Director Chris Chafe proposed several actions that could help keep American workers safe:
- Strengthen laws to protect more workers by ending government indifference and corporate misbehavior;
- Improve safety and health standards, close the loopholes in OSHA’s inspection programs and mandate strict follow-up enforcement actions against employers where workers were killed or injured;
- Congress must pass the Protecting America’s Workers Act to give OSHA the authority necessary to make sure that employers who flagrantly violate the law not only comply with safety and health standards, but also finally face the consequences of their lawlessness; and
- Congress must assure that OSHA has the resources to do inspections before more workers die from employer negligence.
"…[W]e are excited to welcome a new administration and Congress dedicated to protecting America’s workers," Chafe said. "From Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, to President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress, it is clear that we have entered a new era of government for America’s workers – one that is strongly committed to protecting the interests, health and safety of all working families."
Honoring Workers Memorial Day
AFL-CIO produced a Workers Memorial Day flier offering several suggestions for honoring this day, such as holding a candlelight vigil or memorial service; organizing a rally to draw attention to safety and health problems; contacting members of Congress to support stronger workplace safety protections; and more.
In conjunction with Workers Safety Day, the AFL-CIO also released "Death on the Job
The Toll of Neglect," a national and state-by-state profile of worker safety and health in the United States. This is the 18th year AFL-CIO has produced the report.
"Very simply, workers need more job safety and health protection," the report said. "The Obama administration must restore the commitment to protecting workers, provide strong leadership at both OSHA and MSHA and move forward on a new course."