For more than 30 years in the United States, April 28 has been recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, which honors people who died on the job. It also represents a day that promotes a safe and healthy workplace for the millions of people who work in the country and Wisconsin.
Improved safety measures protect workers, many of whom are severely or fatally injured on the job. Workers whose lives are spared face lengthy physical and financial recoveries. In these situations, workers’ compensation matters come to the forefront.
Such a day is especially poignant right now—in the face of an unprecedented health crisis—as workers of all kinds put their health and safety at risk daily in the face of the coronavirus threat. From front-line first responders to health care workers to all “essential” workers, there can be an ever-present threat in simply going to work each day.
An agency focused on worker safety for 50 years
Workers’ Memorial Day has its origins in 1989 when the AFL-CIO – a federation of U.S. trade unions –declared April 28 as the day to honor workers who died on the job. The significance of April 28: It marks the date in 1971 when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened its doors.
Ensuring safe and healthy working conditions are the key components of OSHA. The agency’s roots are in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Fifty years of focusing on worker safety. We urge greater support and funding of OSHA to continue to pursue its crucial rules and enforcement mechanisms.
Work-related deaths in Wisconsin
Despite efforts of creating safe workplaces, people still die on the job. In Wisconsin, a total of 114 people died in work-related injuries in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Worker deaths in the state have gradually climbed since 2013.
The top four categories accounting for the most worker deaths in Wisconsin were: transportation (48); contact with objects and equipment (20); violence by other people or animals (15); and falls, slips and trips (14).
During the current health crisis, we fear that work-related deaths (due to contracting COVID-19) are likely to rise.
Proper training and supportive employer
Workplace safety is crucial as we need workers for our formerly humming economy…and as the nation navigates the future and potential return to work options. Thorough training and proper safety gear along with a supportive employer remain crucial factors in creating a safe workplace. Of course, this means proper protective equipment for those dealing with coronavirus response.
On behalf of all of us at Domer Law, we offer our heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifices and efforts of all Wisconsin’s workers on Workers’ Memorial Day—and especially during the current crisis. Stay safe all.