Remembering Those We Lost

Workers’ Memorial Day is a chance to think of who died, but also how we can save others.

Twana McFann is a safety technician with the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities in Columbus, Ohio, and chairman of the NSC Labor Division. She also is immediate past chairman of the IBEW Safety Caucus.

​On April 28, we will mark Workers' Memorial Day, a day created to remember the people who have been killed or injured at work.

Unfortunately, over the four days between the posting of this article and Workers Memorial Day, we can expect to add more than 40 people to the list of workers killed and around 51,000 people to the roster of those injured in their workplaces. So as the National Safety Council Labor Division honors America's fallen workers, the division also is working to increase the awareness that can eventually make workplace deaths and injuries a thing of the past.

Forty years ago, workplaces in the United States were far less safe. Progress has been recorded since, to the point that today we are nine times more likely to die away from the workplace than in it. But there is still a variety of hazards faced by modern workers, and our march toward safety is by no means complete.

Until personal protective equipment, training and supervision are part of every day in every workplace, there will be injuries. Until basic safety procedures, such as lockout/tagout, are followed relentlessly, there will be deaths. And until the commitment to safety reaches into every part of every organization, we will mark Workers' Memorial Day annually to honor those lost to preventable incidents.

Events are scheduled in 29 states this week, as the nation will reflect on the vital achievements of the past and recommit to keeping all workers safe and healthy in the future. We owe nothing less to the countless working Americans who have built and shaped our nation, and to those who have lost their lives or been injured on the job.

On April 28, I hope you'll take a moment to think about all the people who went to work one morning and never made it home. Think about the family members and friends who were left behind. Reflect on the small measures of safety that might have made a difference, and commit to making safety such an overwhelming priority that deaths and injuries are eventually eliminated from our workplaces.

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