The National Safety Council is calling on Americans to recognize Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 by pledging to prioritize safety at work, as well as participating in a virtual candlelight vigil that will remember workers who have died on the job.
The Council urges Americans to take its online Safe At Work Pledge to prioritize safety at work, and dedicate that pledge to those who’ve been lost to preventable workplace incidents. In addition, the Council will host a virtual candlelight vigil on Facebook, and all are welcome to join by offering comments of support, remembrance and love for those who tragically died while working.
“Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to not only remember those who lost their lives on the job, but also recommit to protecting workers from death and injury,” said Mark P. Vergnano, chairman of the National Safety Council Board and president and CEO of the Chemours Company. “Preventable workplace deaths in this country have increased each year for the past four years – and drawing national attention to this issue helps focus all stakeholders on significant ways that we can improve employee safety. Let’s honor those lost by doing more to protect the workers of tomorrow.”
Preventable workplace deaths totaled 4,414 in 2017, up slightly from 4,398 in 2016. And since 2009 – the peak of the recession – preventable work-related deaths have increased nearly 18 percent, while the number of hours worked increased 12 percent.
Notably, some of the largest increases in preventable workplace deaths in 2017 occurred to workers in industries that fuel the country’s economy: those in construction, transportation and agriculture. Trends include:
- Roadway motor vehicle crashes resulted in 1,299 deaths, up from 1,252 in 2016; 504 of these deaths occurred in the transportation and warehousing industries, and more than 8,200 were injured
- 971 workers in the construction industry lost their lives, and nearly 80,000 were injured
- Falls to a lower level deaths totaled 713, up from 697 in 2016
- Deaths from unintentional overdoses involving nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol totaled 272, up from 217 in 2016
- 581 workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries died in the line of work, and nearly 17,000 were injured
Technology can be a solution to some of the safety issues in our workplaces. The Council has received a $500,000 grant from the Pittsburgh-based McElhattan Foundation to launch the Work to Zero initiative. Work to Zero will help educate employers about new technological safety advancements that promise to reduce and ultimately end workplace deaths by the year 2050.