This Sunday, which is Workers Memorial Day, we remember our workforce for all that they do, have done, will do, and have sacrificed. And we vow to—
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
Just like Mary Harris Jones, “the most dangerous woman in America,” did in the early 1900s.
Why? Because America wouldn’t be the nation that it is today without its diligent workforce, who built cities from the ground up, provided food for a country and put roofs over our heads. The nation relied on the sinewy and tired arms of its workers, who worked the drills and donned their hard hats. These men and women braved the dangers of their work environments and remained hard at work—even if this meant putting their lives on the line.
So much has changed since the first Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed and yet one thing remains constant: people still lose their lives on the job. Based on recent data, 12 individuals die at work every year on average. But their deaths are not forgotten, nor were they in vain. This coming April 28, their memory lives on, as we commemorate their hard work on Workers Memorial Day and renew our commitment to protect the health and safety of our nation’s workers.
“With every one of these fatalities, the lives of a worker’s family members were shattered and forever changed. We can’t forget that fact,” says acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris in his message on the OSHA.gov website.
National office activities have already been launched as a prelude to the commemoration on Sunday, which includes panel discussions and accident prevention campaigns. State offices will also be holding memorial masses, parades, meetings and seminars on workplace accident prevention and most importantly, a reading of the names of people who died at work during the past year.
Based on the official release of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, a number of employers are still blatantly committing safety violations that put the lives of their workers at risk. Moreover, workplace hazards remain uncontrolled and unreported.
Interestingly, human resource consultancy firms and similar entities provide courses to companies on how to circumvent OSHA laws and citations. Fortunately, OSHA doesn’t turn a blind eye to these things.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was established to ensure workers’ rights to a safe and healthful workplace. It entails employers to enroll their employees in OSHA safety training programs for the construction and general industries, as well as HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) training.
Learn more about Mary Harris Jone (aka Mother Jones) and the path she forged for workers here.