Workers' Memorial Day

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Workers' Memorial Day, International Workers' Memorial Day or International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured or Day of Mourning takes place annually around the world on April 28, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.[1]

Workers' Memorial Day[edit]

Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in workplace safety. The slogan for the day is Remember the dead – Fight for the living.[1]

Although April 28 is used as the focal point for remembrance and a day of international solidarity, campaigning and other related activities continue throughout the year right around the world.

Origins[edit]

Workers' Memorial Day ribbon

Workers' Memorial Day was started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1984. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28, which is the anniversary of a comprehensive Workers Compensation Act (refer to the entry Workplace Safety & Insurance Board), passed in 1914. In 1991, the Canadian Parliament passed an Act respecting a National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace, making April 28 an official Workers’ Mourning Day.[1][2]

International recognition[edit]

For years Workers' Memorial Day events have been organised in Canada and the U.S. and then worldwide. In the USA it has been recognised since 1989. Since 1989 trade unions in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa have organised events on April 28. The late Hazards Campaigner Tommy Harte brought Workers' Memorial Day to the UK in 1992 as a day to ‘Remember the Dead: Fight for the Living’. In the UK the campaign for Workers’ Memorial Day has been championed by the Hazards Campaign and taken up by trade unions, adopted by Scotland's TUC in 1993, followed by the TUC in 1999 and the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive in 2000.[1][2]

April 28 is recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as International Workers' Memorial Day. In 1996 the ICFTU commemorated Workers' Memorial Day and began to set annual 'themes'. For 2006 the ICFTU theme was Union workplaces: safer workplaces, focusing on a Global Ban on Asbestos and increased awareness of HIV/AIDS.[3] During 2001 the ILO, part of the United Nations, recognised Workers' Memorial Day and declared it World Day for Safety and Health at Work and in 2002 the ILO announced that April 28 should be an official day in the United Nations system.[1][2]

Workers' Memorial Day is recognised as a national day in many countries including: Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, United States and the United Kingdom. Trade Unions in other countries including Benin, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Romania and Singapore are pursuing government recognition.[1][2]

Workers’ Memorial Day is now an international day of remembrance of workers killed in incidents at work, or by diseases caused by work, and annually on April 28, Workers' Memorial Day events are held throughout the world. Some examples include active campaigning, and workplace awareness events. Public events include speeches, multi-faith religious services, laying wreaths, planting trees, unveiling monuments, balloon releases, raising public awareness of issues and laying out empty shoes to symbolise those who have died at work.

United States[edit]

  • In the United States, there are approximately 155 million workers.[4]
  • In 2012, 4,628 workers died from work-related injuries, an average of 12 deaths per day.[5]
  • An estimated 53,000 deaths caused by occupational illnesses occurred in 2007.[6] There is no comprehensive system that counts deaths from occupational illnesses.
  • In 2012, employers reported nearly 3 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses to private industry workers and 793,000 to state and local government workers.[7]
  • About 2.8 million work-related injuries were treated in emergency departments, resulting in 140,000 hospitalizations in 2012.[8]
  • The economic burden of occupational injuries and illnesses was estimated at $250 billion in 2007. This estimate accounted for medical costs, productivity losses, and the societal costs of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.[9]

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death. Additionally, NIOSH collaborates with other federal agencies, academic institutions, industry, and labor and professional organizations to move research into effective injury and illness prevention practices. As part of its national effort to protect workers from injury and illness, and in conjunction with Worker’ Memorial Day efforts globally, NIOSH contributes relevant data, case reports, and other findings from its surveillance and research activities to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) prepared and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Worldwide[edit]

Memorial Tree, Astley Park

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), across the world:

  • Each year, more than two million men and women die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases
  • Workers suffer approximately 270 million accidents each year, and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of -related illnesses
  • Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually – asbestos claims 100,000 lives
  • One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide. 6,000 workers die every day. More people die whilst at work than those fighting wars.[10]

World Day for Safety and Health at Work[edit]

World Day for Safety and Health at Work
Observed by Workers Worldwide (Geneva for the year 2011)
Type International
Significance work environment, occupational safety and health
Date April 28 (annually)
Related to International Workers' Day, Labour Day, Labor Day

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a UN international day that is celebrated every 28th of April. It is concerned about safe work and awareness of the dimensions and consequences of work-related accidents and diseases; to place occupational safety and health (OSH) on the international and national agendas; and to provide support to the national efforts for the improvement of national OSH systems and programmes in line with relevant international labour standards.[11]

The 2011 World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on the implementation of an Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OSHMS) as a tool for continual improvement in the prevention of workplace incidents and accidents.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Greater Manchester Hazards Center Fact Sheet April 28, 2006 (GMHC is part of the Hazards Campaign recognised and affiliated to the UK Trades Union Congress) Author Hilda Palmer, (no ISBN); available at http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/WMDLft06.pdf Also 'Safety Express' March/ April 2006 Page 5 'April 28 is...Workers' Memorial Day' (no ISBN); published by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) UK registered charity No. 207823
  2. ^ a b c d TUC Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety course notes 2004/5 Section C page 69 (no ISBN); more info available at http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/index.cfm?mins=293
  3. ^ "Union Workplaces – Safer Workplaces". April 28, 2006. Retrieved April 27, 2008. 
  4. ^ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  5. ^ Workers’ Memorial Day
  6. ^ Leigh JP. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States. Millbank Q 2011; 89:728–72
  7. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic news release: workplace injury and illness summary. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2012. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm
  8. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/workmemorial/ Workers’ Memorial Day]
  9. ^ Workers’ Memorial Day
  10. ^ Trades Union Congress (UK) 'Hazards at Work: Organising for Safe and Healthy Workplaces' ISBN 1-85006-754-6. Also ILO fact sheet 'Facts on Safety at Work' published by the ILO April 2005 (no ISBN); available at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/inf/fact/index.htm
  11. ^ Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork) - International Labour Organization.
  12. ^ World Day for Safety and Health at Work – 28 April 2011 - International Labour Organization.

External links[edit]