On 28 April each year, International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) is a time to remember those who have died either because of a workplace accident, ill health or diseases as a result of work.
Why we ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual statistics show on average that 135 workers are killed in work related accidents each year. They also estimate that there are around 13,000 deaths each year from occupational lung disease and cancer caused by past exposure at work to chemicals and dust (such as asbestos or silica).
However, safety campaigners estimate that the true figure for all work-related deaths is closer to 50,000 each year.
Although it is rare for a UNISON member to die in a workplace incident, unfortunately some do suffer serious injuries and work-related ill health, including musculoskeletal disorders, stress, anxiety and depression. This can significantly affect them, their family, friends and other work colleagues.
UNISON knows that the key to providing safe and healthy workplaces is effective risk management, eliminating or reducing the risk of harm and having safe systems of work, including training and access to protective equipment.
Additionally, UNISON health safety representatives play a vital role in keeping workplaces safe and healthy by working with employers and raising members’ concerns about working condition, as well as undertaking inspections of workplaces to check all steps are being taking to keep workers safe.
As an international day, each year a theme is chosen to help focus on a campaign for change.
This year the theme is Make safe and healthy work a fundamental right