Workers Memorial Day


a candle illuminates a dark background

In the not too distant past, the idea that workers could have some recourse in the event of work related injury, sickness, and even death was far-fetched at best. Employees were tasked with proving negligence on the part of the employer, and even if successful, the compensation was often a pittance. Although the fascinating history of Workers’ Comp dates all the way back to Ancient Greece, Rome, and China, it wasn’t until April 28, 1970 that the United States enacted the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) in an effort to protect and compensate workers on the job.  

Too bolster the visibility and strength of OSHA, Workers’ Memorial Day was also established at that time. Recognizing Workers’ Memorial Day has helped bring attention to making workplaces generally safer, but also to important issues such as asbestos, HIV/AIDS and preventable work-related accident conditions.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 4,764 workers in the US were killed from work-related injuries. April 28th is “Workers Memorial Day” in honor of people killed or injured while working.  The day began in Canada and the USA but has grown internationally to be recognized in many nations such as Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and several others, with efforts to recognize the day in more nations.   

Canada calls the day “Workers Mourning Day” to reflect on workers who have been killed, injured, or suffered illnesses due to work conditions.  The International Laboure Organization (ILO) refers to it as International Workers’ Memorial Day.  

April 28th is directly related to the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) which went into effect on April 28, 1970.  A year later, April 28, 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed. Although passage of Occupational Health and Safety Act has been instrumental in preventing death and injury, 340 workers die each day on average from the hazards of their work conditions and 120,000 die due to occupational diseases.  

Every employer has a general responsibility to make the place of employment a safe place for all employees and maintain to OSHA standards.  And in Industries such as construction, maritime, and agriculture these industries have specific regulations for their work conditions. 

If your organization could use some help in reviewing your safety practices, FIT HR may be able to help.  Our experienced consultants have worked with many organizations in many industries to improve their safety practices and workplace conditions.  We would be happy to help prevent workplace injuries and accidents at your workplace.