Labor Day Through the Years – Don’t Allow the Pandemic of 2020 to Derail your EHS Efforts

The first Monday in September is dedicated to Labor Day, which honors the dedication and sacrifice made by today’s workers, as well as the sacrifices of the workers who came before us.

Looking at a timeline of the 150 years leading up to now, one thing becomes apparent: the Labor Day celebrations we enjoy today, filled with picnics and family time, are the result of the blood, sweat and tears of millions of workers throughout the last century and a half and beyond.

From mining disasters that claimed hundreds of lives, to construction work that triggered an epidemic of silicosis among workers on a bridge project, to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, workers have paid the price of lax workplace safety and health practices with their lives.

I’m not an EHS professional. I’m a journalist and content director. But over the years, especially as I was growing up, worker safety … Read more...

The Labor of the Safety Professional

The Triangle Shirtwaist Garment Factory fire killed 146 workers in New York City in 1911 and sparked protest marches across the country as workers demanded safer working conditions.

One of the joys of age is the ability to look back with more experience and, hopefully, more wisdom. I began my career as a safety and health professional in 1989. Worker safety and safe working conditions have been top of mind for me for more than 30 years.

It does not escape me that things have changed a lot in our profession these past three decades and, without a doubt, will rapidly change going forward. Yet, our work is still the same: As safety and health professionals, our core duty is to return people – our colleagues and the workers entrusted to our care – back to their families every day. We do more than that, but if we aren’t protecting … Read more...

The Legacy of Labor Day

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In North America, the September long weekend has come to signal the end of summer and the chance for one last backyard barbecue before the fall. Its original significance is sometimes lost on us in the hustle and bustle of back-to-school preparations.

But Labor Day is a cultural holiday that commemorates an important moment in workers’ rights history and celebrates how far we’ve come. Labor Day is also one of the few holidays celebrated on the same day across all of North America, regardless of religious affiliation.

Labor Day’s Origins
Labor Day began in Toronto, Canada back in 1872. At the time, unions were illegal in Canada and workers often faced deplorable working conditions, long work weeks, and low wages. The late 1800s weren’t easy for those in the U.S. either, with the average American working a 12-hour day and a seven-day week, just to make a decent living. Workers … Read more...