Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit employers and their employees to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. It is also the day OSHA was established in 1971.
Every year, events are held across the country to promote health and safety for workers. Events may include, but are not limited to, active campaigning and workplace awareness, multi-faith religious services, laying wreaths, planting trees, unveiling monuments, balloon/paper lantern releases, raising public awareness of issues and the setting out of shoes to symbolize those who have died at work.
This day is also an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and ill health and to promote the fight for improvements in workplace safety. Each day in the United States, 12 employees die while performing work-related activities. Everyone on the jobsite has to do their part to prevent on-the-job injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. The most successful safety and health programs start with executive buy-in and support. All employees must receive training to recognize, report, and prevent hazards in the workplace. Forward-thinking companies take pride in offering safety recognition programs that reinforce the need for safety training for every employee in the workplace. Company’s sometimes use Worker’s Memorial Day to host a ceremonial launch of their safety recognition programs, or reengage workers in existing programs.
Here is a list of some other ways your company can participate in Worker’s Memorial Day:
- Plan a ceremony and invite employees to present special readings, or invite a guest speaker to give an inspirational speech.
- Hold a candlelight vigil, memorial service or moment of silence to remember those who have died on the job and highlight job safety problems at workplaces in your community.
- Hold a public meeting with members of Congress in their districts and discuss in a town hall forum the importance of protections and rights for worker.
- Bring injured workers and family members who can share their experience and the need for strong safety and health protections.
- Conduct workshops to empower workers to report job safety hazards and exercise workplace rights. Invite union members, nonunion workers and community allies to participate.
- Create a memorial at a workplace or in a community where workers have been killed on the job.
- Give employees the day off to attend a Worker’s Memorial Day event in a nearby town.
- Invite the friends and family of workers to come out and be part of the day’s memorials and ceremonial activities. Don’t forget to invite the press to your Workers Memorial Day events to increase public awareness of the dangers workers face on the job.
The good news is that fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace are preventable. Together, employers and employees can do their part to prevent such tragedies. No matter how you plan to acknowledge Worker’s Memorial Day, be sure to time out with your employees on April 28 to have a real discussion about why workplace safety is important. For more information on safety recognition programs or other products to help your organization to keep employees safe, contact the Safety Pros!