Pledge to Work Safely And Remember Those We’ve Lost in Recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day

Preventable workplace deaths are on the rise; NSC remembers those who died through pledge effort and virtual candlelight vigil.

April 18, 2019

Itasca, IL – 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 NSC 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%, while the number of hours worked increased 12%.

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.

People can take the Safe at Work Pledge by visiting nsc.org/safeatworkpledge. The virtual candlelight vigil will begin at 11 a.m. CT Friday, April 26, on Facebook.

The Council also offers free resources for those who wish to observe Workers’ Memorial Day, including a video and infographics. Visit nsc.org/workersmemorialday to download and share. Explore other workplace injury and fatality trends at https://injuryfacts.nsc.org.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

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With a century-long legacy, the National Safety Council is a global center for safety expertise. Let's work together to align resources. We look forward to learning about ways we can join efforts to expand safety everywhere!

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