Words fail when a family member, colleague, or friend dies suddenly. The actions we take speak volumes. Many strive for the prevention of the next workplace tragedy and remembering those who are gone. Helping others can bring us hope.
Over two million people are killed each year on the job worldwide. That's more than the entire population of Nebraska. The International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations keeps track of this toll which, encouragingly, is on a downward trend. In 1985, Canada led the effort in remembrance of workers killed on the job by starting a worker's memorial. The US followed suit and by 1991 the ILO, Canadian and British Parliaments, and the US government had recognized April 28th as an international day of mourning—the same day as the anniversary of the formation of OSHA in 1971. Regardless of what name you use for it, April 28th is a special day of remembrance. For generations who have suffered through the tragic impact of a preventable hazard, whether it caused death or a devastating injury or illness, it is a day to remember, to acknowledge, and to continue fighting for safety in the workplace.
Safety is not a burden, but a responsibility to your fellow man. The long-term benefits of a safe work environment, in cost, morale, and emotional and mental well-being far outweigh the short-term benefits of short-cuts. Workplace fatalities stretch across all industries. From the 2010 mining disaster in West Virginia, and the poultry plant fire in China, to a dancer recently killed by a steel acrobatic ring while in rehearsal in Chicago—preventable accidents at work are in every corner of the world. Safety isn't about clearing the red tape it’s about going home to your loved ones at the end of the day and leading a full life. Recently a head wildlife keeper in an Oregon wildlife sanctuary was killed by a cougar when she was left to clean a wildcat enclosure by herself. "Absolutely nothing is going to bring back my daughter,” Carol Radziwon told the Oregonian. "It was a needless thing that happened and it could have been prevented."
We hear stories every day at Graphic Products surrounding tragedy and illness on the job. We take pride in the fact that what we do directly impacts safety in the workplace. Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) became effective over 40 years ago, workplace deaths and reported occupational injuries have dropped by more than 60 percent in the United States alone. There is still more work to do; workplace deaths in the US are between 3,000 – 4,000 per year.
We wish everyone impacted by workplace death, injury, or illness hope for the future of safety—and we take a moment on April 28th to honor those who have passed.