April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day. It’s a time to remember workers who have lost their lives on the job due to injuries or illnesses, but it’s also more.
As stated on the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s (COSH) webpage, Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to renew efforts involving safety and health at work. It’s a day to highlight the work of safety professionals and that workplace injuries are preventable.
In the U.S., more than 4,300 fatal work injuries were recorded in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available. In 2011, the number was 4,693.
The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2012 was 3.2 cases per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.5 in 2011.
While overall fatalities decreased in 2012, there were increases in some areas. Fatalities in the private construction sector increased 5% in 2012, while total hours worked in the industry increased just 1%. That increase followed five consecutive years of declines.
Fatalities involving workers under 16 nearly doubled, rising from 10 in 2011 to 19 in 2012 — the highest total since 2005.
Deaths in the private mining sector rose in 2012 partly due to an increase in fatalities in oil and gas extraction.
While some events are planned around remembrance, others and forward-looking, such as free safety courses for one day in some locations.