While it ought to be top-of-mind 365 days a year, tomorrow is probably the most important day in the world of workplace health and safety. April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day and thousands of individuals in cities around the world with attend events honouring workers killed, disabled, injured or harmed at work.
As OSHA head Dr. Davis Michaels stated in a recent audio message in honour of the day of mourning, every day 12 American workers go to work and never come home as a result of workplace fatalities. On a global level, the statistics are even more staggering: one worker dies every 15 seconds and more people die at work than fighting wars.
Workers’ Memorial Day has special resonance north of the border for a number of reasons. More than 28 years ago, before it gained widespread international attention, Workers’ Memorial Day was founded by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). It was officially recognized by an Act of the Canadian Parliament in 1991 and is now honoured in dozens of countries around the world. Further, on Monday a tragic and highly publicized sawmill explosion occurred in Prince George, British Columbia, leaving two workers dead and injuring another 19.
So tomorrow is a great opportunity to take pause and consider what you can do to improve the health and safety conditions of your workplace and to remember those who have been killed or injured at work in the past year. For some ideas of what you can do and events happening in your community, go to the International Day of Mourning website.