April 27, 2018 / Mark Ames

Honoring Workers’ Memorial Day

On Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, we turn our eyes to the threat that lives among us; the threat that we have gotten used to; the threat that has nearly been forgotten. But on this day, we remember.

On Workers’ Memorial Day we remember that each and every day, 150 people are killed by work-related injuries and diseases; we remember that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a 7 percent increase in the number of fatal workplace injuries in 2016; we remember that more than 3 million workers are injured or fall ill on the job.

We remember that this is not how life must be.

Throughout history, people have crossed oceans, deserts, and much more in search of a better life and a better job. On Workers’ Memorial Day we are called to action in fulfillment of the dream of our ancestors—a dream that is deeply personal: the simple desire to return home from an honest day’s work unharmed. For far too many, this is a dream unrealized. Let’s change that.

Workplace health and safety are intimate, touching each of our lives, and those of our family, friends, colleagues, and wider communities. Because of this, each of us has a stake in the safety of our workplace, and all of us have the power—and perhaps even the responsibility—to improve it. Improving workplace health and safety often comes down to individual decisions—the decision to speak with your supervisor, your colleagues, friends, and family; the decision to speak with your policymakers in government; the decision to reject the status quo and take action of any kind.

On Workers’ Memorial Day, we join hands with businesses, governments, workers, and each other, walk away from the divisive rhetoric that too often distracts, and recommit ourselves to doing better. It is in this way that we can truly honor the women, men, and children around the world who have been killed, injured, or fallen ill while trying to perform their jobs. It is in this way that we can realize our common dream of a safe and healthy workplace for us and those who will inherit the world.

Mark Ames

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of Government Relations. For information on AIHA’s Government Relations activities, please visit the AIHA Government Relations Action Center. See also AIHA’s web page on Safe + Sound Week and Safety Matters.


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