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.
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on Thursday, April 28, 2022, issued the following statement on Workers Memorial Day as the nation remembers those whose work claimed their lives:
“In the past year, nearly 5,000 workers left home for work and did not return. None knew that going to work would cost them their lives. While each life lost is a tragedy, those taken in incidents that might have been prevented – had their employers followed required safety and health standards – are especially painful for their families, their co-workers and friends, and their communities.
Today, we join the families of those workers we have lost on Workers Memorial Day to remember them, reflect on the difference they made in our lives and recognize the high cost of failing to adhere to workplace safety and health regulations.
Amid the losses of thousands of workers each year – 13 people a day on average – we have also endured the heightened risks brought by the coronavirus pandemic for more than two years. Many workers suffered fatal exposure to COVID-19 as they worked to care for our health, protect our safety and feed our families.
While we have made much progress toward safer workplaces, we must do more to ensure that employers understand and take responsibility for addressing workplace hazards and keep them from causing workplace fatalities. As our economy continues its recovery, we are determined to empower workers as well so they can recognize the hazards around them, and demand their rights to a safe workplace without fear of retaliation.
On Workers Memorial Day, we honor the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters whose lives ended tragically and, in their memory re-commit ourselves to our belief that no worker should ever have to trade their life for a paycheck.”