Workers Memorial Day, established to promote safer workplaces, pays recognition to workers who suffer illness, injury, or death from workplace hazards each year.

Celebrating Workers Memorial Day

In 1970, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) established Workers Memorial Day to honor workers who lost their lives in the workplace due to occupational hazards. For the last 50 years, workers have been recognized on this special day that is celebrated in April each year.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,147 American workers in 2017. These deaths were caused by a variety of occupational illnesses and injuries. In 2017, U.S. employers reported approximately 2.8 million non-fatal illnesses and injuries to private industry workers. Most fatal occupational injuries were recorded by company surveillance systems, so workers’ compensation claims and benefits were not questioned. However, many workers who died from occupational illnesses were required to show proof that their illnesses were directly caused by work-related hazards.

Many occupational illnesses and injuries are directly related to the lack of workplace safety measures. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets and oversees workplace safety standards for all occupations, many employers fall short of implementing them and/or updating them to ensure worker safety. Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys often handle personal injury cases linked to workplace safety violations. Certain high-risk occupations expose workers to a variety of deadly dangers such as:

  • Fires and explosions
  • Chemical and electrical burns
  • Exposure to toxic fumes 
  • Electrocution
  • Limb amputations
  • Falls from extreme heights

Hospital staff, medical workers, and emergency responders face high risks of exposure to deadly infections, toxic substances, dangerous drugs, and contagious diseases.

When occupational illness and injuries result in a worker’s death, family members often face huge medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. The consequences of a worker’s death are also felt in the workplace by fellow workers and employers who may face reduced wages, lost production, and possible business closure.

NIOSH is constantly working to improve workplace safety through advanced technologies, workplace training programs, and job safety regulations. They recently joined Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing to promote job safety measures related to the use of robotics and drones in the workplace. Workers Memorial Day is an annual event held each spring to underscore the importance of workplace safety and remember American workers who lost their lives to fatal occupational illnesses and injuries.

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