Workers’ Memorial Day: Remembering the Dead, Fighting for the Living

On April 28 every year, the world pauses to remember and honor the workers who have died from workplace injuries and illnesses. The day serves as a reminder that we must work together to achieve safer and healthier workplaces and a more sustainable world.  

At Intelex, we’ve dedicated our careers to preventing death on the job and protecting the planet. We are proud sponsors of the National Safety Council’s Work to Zero initiative, which helps educate employers about new technological safety advancements that promise to reduce and ultimately end workplace deaths by the year 2050. For 30 years, Intelex has understood that data and technology play a critical role in reducing workplace incidents, making an aspirational goal like zero workplace deaths by 2050 achievable.  

Each year, on Workers’ Memorial Day, we stop to remember why we are so passionate about our work. 

According to the International Labour Organization, an estimated 2.3 million women and men around the world die as the result of work-related accidents or diseases every year. Worldwide, there are around 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses annually. Preventable workplace deaths continue to claim thousands of lives every year in North America, and globally, 6,000 workers are killed on the job every day.  

Worker safety organizations and governments around the world – Australia, Gilbralter, the UK, the United States, Canada and more – are pausing for a few moments today to acknowledge the workers who have lost their lives and advocate for safer working conditions and a reduction in workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. 

Every Number Tells a Story 

There were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2019. Every one of these statistics represents a human tragedy and a cautionary tale of a breakdown in safety management systems. Here’s one example of a preventable workplace death, in which the use of a confined space entry program and proper training and permit to work procedures would have saved a life: 

At 2:00 p.m. on April 19, 2021, two employees at a company in McAllen, TX, were directed to clean the exterior and interior of a 2,500-gallon tank of a water truck that had been bought at an auction. The company had sandblasted it to prepare it to be painted and then were going to put it in use controlling dust at the company worksite. The employees used the 24-inch opening on top of the truck to enter the tank. The employees were wiping the inside with gasoline-saturated rags.  

They were not wearing personal protective equipment and there were no confined space procedures in place. A coworker entered the area and did not hear any noise, so he asked how it was going. When there was no response, he climbed to the top of the truck and looked in and saw that the two employees had collapsed. He ran to get help and coworkers managed to get the two men out of the tank. One employee was revived with CPR, but the other employee died. 

The Crushing Cost of Workplace Injuries and Illness 

It is estimated that a worker dies every 99 minutes in the United States and in that same amount of time, more than 500 employees suffer nonfatal injuries and illnesses. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds.  

An estimate of the annual burden of chronic occupational illness in the United States is between 460,534 and 709,792 additional cases per year, and the cost to society – in terms of medical costs and lost productivity – is estimated at $250 billion per year. The total cost of work injuries in 2019 was $171 billion, according to the NSC. But no one pays a higher price than workers who die from work-related causes and their families. 

A Brighter Future  

Technology can help solve the challenges that lead to injury and illness in the workplace and the issues that impact the environment outside of the workplace. More data is available than ever before to health and safety, quality and ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) professionals. Intelex helps thousands of companies and millions of users around the globe analyze and utilize this critical operational information to provide safer, cleaner and more efficient products and processes.

Our mission at Intelex is to work with our customers to provide risk management, ESG and health and safety solutions that help them eliminate death on the job by 2050 and protect the future of our planet. Together, we mourn the lives lost and fight for a brighter future for the living. 

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