Each year on April 28, we observe Workers Memorial Day – a day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made sick by their work. It is a time to renew the fight for safer workplaces and emphasize the need that worker safety be placed above corporate profits.
April 28 is also the anniversary of the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, (OSHA). With this act, was the promise of the right to a safe workplace. Although workplace safety has greatly improved over the years, there are still an alarming number of job-related tragedies.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Workers Memorial Day:
Each day in this country, 150 workers die from job injuries and occupational diseases. Last year in the United States more than 3.8 million workers were reported injured on the job, but this number understates the problem. The true toll of job injuries is likely two to three times greater. Around the globe, the toll is vast, with 2.3 million workers dying and 317 million workers injured on the job each year.
This year our thoughts are particularly with the families of West, Texas, where two weeks ago a horrific explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people, injured hundreds more and caused widespread destruction. While the investigation is still under way, from all reports regulatory authorities had not inspected this dangerous facility in years.
This Workers Memorial Day we must speak out against all those who value profit over life and wealth for the few over prosperity for all. Corporations that exploit workers and put them in danger must be held accountable. We call on the Obama Administration to act without further delay to implement important regulations on silica, coal dust and other hazards. And we must strengthen our job safety laws to give all workers the protection they need and deserve.