Saturday, April 28th is International Workers Memorial Day.  It is a day when unions around the world campaign for improvements in workplace health and safety.  Started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in 1984, and adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress the following year, the day has been officially recognized by more than twenty countries, including the USA and the UK.  The Canadian National Day of Mourning is also observed on this day.   The U.N. adopted the day in 1996. 

The following  information comes from r@w news, in Australia.  This day is one to remember workers who died, were injured or fell ill due to unsafe, unhealthy or unsustainable work and workplaces around the world.  The most updated information shows that there are almost 360,000 fatal occupational accidents in any year, and almost 2 million fatal work-related diseases.  Every day, more than 960,000 workers get hurt because of accidents, and on average 5,330 workers die because of work-related diseases.  April 28th should be commemorated for those who have lost their lives or their health at or because of their work; to raise awareness about the risk of disease, injury or death for workers in all sectors and countries; and to engage all workers and unions in a positive action day for dialogue, transformation, and progress on occupational safety. 

We checked out other announcements from countries that also commemorate this day, such as our own country, the United States.  The IAFF is encouraging its affiliates to observe Workers Memorial Day and National Day of Mourning on April 28, remembering those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces.  In 1989, April 28 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day OSHA went into effect.  OSHA protects workers by instituting occupational health and safety standards that cultivate safe working environments and remove recognized hazards that may cause death or serious harm to workers.  The theme for the AFL-CIO for this year is “Safe Jobs Save Lives.” 

UNISON Scotland, Scotland’s biggest and liveliest trade union’s theme is “Cuts Cost Lives – Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living.  In the United Kingdom, IOSH feels that this  is the most important day of occupational safety and health calendar on the horizon.  They are encouraging persons to send in snapshots of themselves and their co-workers and describe “What does Workers’ Memorial Day Mean toYou?”  The images will then be uploaded to IOSH’s Twitter and Flickr accounts to give people around the world an insight into the real meaning of the Day. 

For your information, here are the countries that observe and promote this day around the world: Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Greece, Luxembourg, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, U.S.A., Ukraine and the United Kingdom.  In addition to which the Andean Community of countries has adopted this day on behalf of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and their associate member Venezuela. 

Whether you are union or non-union, chances are every one of us has known someone who died on the job.  We must do everything possible to encourage employers to make jobs safer for workers around the world.  Pause and be thankful on this day that is set aside to honor those who lost their lives simply doing their job.