The numbers are staggering. In 2010, an average of 150 workers died from job injuries and illnesses every day. And nearly 4 million workers were hurt or made ill.
America must do better. That’s why working families across the country will come together to mourn the dead and injured and continue the struggle for good jobs that are safe and healthy for all workers.
This Saturday, April 28, is Workers’ Memorial Day. On this day, we remember the extraordinary sorrow that far too many families still suffer as a result of unsafe working conditions. It is also the 41st anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and of an era when the basic right to a safe and healthful workplace became the law of the land.
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There is still a lot of work to do to make sure workplaces are safe for all workers. In 2010, nearly 4,700 workers lost their lives on the job—and more than 50,000 died from occupational diseases.
But we have made real progress over the last four decades. Without working people and their unions coming together to demand action from employers and the government to improve workplace safety and protect communities, we would not have the Occupational Safety and Health Act and mine safety laws that provide the right to a safe job. We would not have stronger standards to protect workers from asbestos, benzene and other dangers. And communities wouldn’t have the right to know about toxic chemical hazards, or stronger laws and regulations to prevent chemical plants from exploding and endangering our communities.
The collective power of working people also can stop the erosion of workplace safety laws. Extreme politicians are pushing to erode workplace safety laws and to let some employers—like Massey Energy and BP—off the hook for cutting corners and violating the law to help their bottom line. But we won’t let it happen. Not on our watch.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement on the observance of Workers’ Memorial Day:
“Tomorrow, April 28, is Workers’ Memorial Day, an occasion for reflection and remembrance of the thousands of workers who needlessly have suffered fatal injuries on the job every year. We also think of those workers who have been seriously injured or sickened as a result of preventable workplace hazards.
“We are never prepared to say goodbye to the people we love, but we are even less so when we send our loved ones off for a day’s work. It is our duty to ensure that all workers come home safely at the end of each workday, and we stand behind our firm conviction that workplace injuries and fatalities are entirely preventable.
“On this day, I urge all Americans to raise their voices in support of workers’ right to a safe and healthful workplace. In the 41 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, we have made tremendous progress, but our steadfast mission to make every job in America a safe job must continue. One workplace death is too many.
“Making a living shouldn’t include dying.”
On this Workers Memorial Day, let’s not only remember those who lost their lives in the past year, but commit to come together to make jobs safer to save lives and protect communities.