Today (April 28th) is the annual International Workers Memorial Day, an opportunity for everyone to remember and take action on behalf of workers who have lost their lives through work. Slogan “Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living”, recognises the fundamental principle that workers have a right to go to work and be safe.
As said by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan: “Safety and health at work is not only sound economic policy, it is a basic human right”. We all know of someone who has been killed at work, or died as a result of an illness caused by their work. At Stephensons we all too frequently represent families left devastated by the loss of a loved one as a result of a work-related death. These deaths could have been avoided had employers undertaken their legal responsibilities in relation to the health and safety of their employees.
The emphasis of this year’s IWMD is very much on better health and safety in the workplace and raising awareness of these issues. Today is centred around the theme of “Strong Laws, Strong Enforcement, Strong Unions”, in recognition of the significant role played by Trade Unions in improving worker safety and continuous campaigning for tougher laws and sanctions for those employers who breach health and safety standards.
In many countries enforcement of health and safety at work is virtually non-existent, but even here in the UK, we have seen a dramatic fall in the number of health and safety inspections and prosecutions in the recent years. This is due to resource and budgetary cuts to our Health and Safety Executive. Coupled with de-regulation, and the removal of protection for a number of employees, there has been an unfortunate increase in the number of deaths at work. All of which, and it is estimated there are 1,400 deaths due to incidents at work each, were preventable. It is a shocking fact that more people are killed at work than in war. Some people go to work and never come back. How can that be right or acceptable in the 21st Century?
Stephensons is proud to attend the rally in Albert Square, Manchester, at 12 noon, when we will join many others in laying wreaths in memory of those who have died as a result of a work related incident, and stand together in the campaign to ensure that every worker in the UK has a safe workplace.