US Department of Labor to mark Workers Memorial Day, remembering lives lost; stress the high cost of ignoring workplace safety, health standards
WASHINGTON – Each year, the families and friends of fallen workers, and organizations, including the U.S. Department of Labor and its Occupational Safety and Health Administration sadly observe April 28 as Workers Memorial Day.
On average, 13 workers die as a result of workplace injuries every day in the U.S. While far fewer than before the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 laid the foundation to better protect worker safety and health, the nation continues to confront the enormous challenge of making sure every worker ends their shift safely.
In communities across the nation, the people these workers left behind come together to remember them and raise their voices in the hope that – by helping others understand the nature and impact of their tragic losses – the hard work of preventing others from sharing their pain can be done.
To mark the observance, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will join with OSHA and some of those scarred by workplace tragedies at the department’s headquarters in Washington on April 28 for an online national Workers Memorial Day ceremony at 1 p.m. EDT.
“Workers Memorial Day allows us to remember those whose lives were claimed by their jobs, in too many instances, because required safety precautions were not taken to prevent tragedy,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Every year, thousands of workers are unable to return home to their families and their communities because workplace safety and health were overlooked. We must never underestimate the importance of ensuring OSHA requirements are met and followed as the law requires. As we are sadly reminded again, peoples’ lives depend on it.”
The event will include remarks from the following guests:
- Jesse Stolzenfels, a coal miner at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where an explosion and collapse claimed the lives of his 12 co-workers in 2006.
- Rena Harrington, whose son was fatally injured in 2018 at a Massachusetts construction site.
- Alejandro Zuniga, an advocate with the Houston-based Faith and Justice Worker Center, who will discuss workers’ rights and the impact of worker fatalities on their families and communities.
As part of its commemoration, OSHA representatives from across the country will participate in local Workers Memorial Day events in April and stand with families, workers, labor unions, advocates, and others as they honor fallen workers and raise awareness of workplace safety to help prevent future tragedies.
Find a local Workers Memorial Day event near you.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education and assistance to employers as well as to workers directly.