Even though it has been more than 30 years since Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OHSA)–the nation’s first comprehensive workplace health and safety law–thousands of workers are killed on the job each year and millions more are injured or made ill.
Workers Memorial Day, set for April 28, is designed to honor those killed and injured and also to focus attention on the need to do much more to ensure worker safety. As weak as OSHA protections can be, they are better than nothing–which is the situation for almost 9 million public employees who are not covered in their states. (The AFT is pushing for passage of a bill in Congress, recently introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), that would extend OSHA coverage to these workers.)
School employees in particular suffer high rates of work-related assaults and work-related asthma. In addition, healthcare workers and transportation workers suffer strains and sprains at rates that rival those of construction workers.
The AFL-CIO’s theme for this year’s day is “Good Job, Safe Jobs, It’s Time.” The AFT has adopted its own unofficial motto: “A moment of silence is not enough.”
The AFL-CIO has lots more information on Workers Memorial Day, including downloadable fliers, fact sheets, posters and other material. The AFT’s Web site includes additional resources, including a section titled “Work Shouldn’t Hurt .”