As one of thousands who have seen a good friend fall sick and die from an occupational illness, my heart goes out this Workers Memorial Day to all families who have experienced similar heartbreak and hardships.
Within the past few years we have seen some of the worst major workplace tragedies in recent history. The horrific explosion at the Massey Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster in Utah where 6 miners and 3 rescue persons perished along with the BP explosion that killed 11 workers and caused an ongoing environmental and economic disaster are just a few examples. While some of these examples have resulted in record fines and penalties there is still a long way to go per workplace safety.
In 2010, 4500 workers lost their lives on the job, while another 50,000 died from occupational diseases and millions were injured or made ill from workplace hazards.
Everyone should be able to go to work and expect to return home safe and sound to his or her loved ones.
Yet, tens of thousands employees work without adequate protection from deadly hazards who many do not even know what harmful chemicals and hazards they may be exposed to on a regular basis.
These uncertainties are heightened as workers voices are silenced across the country.
The current mode of slashing government regulations, inspectors and safe guards as well as attacking the collective bargaining process should be a clear message to working families everywhere.
Let April 28, Workers Memorial Day be a day we honor and remember those who have been killed or injured on the job. It should also be a day to reinforce the importance of safety in the workplace, as well as remembering those who promote or hinder that process.
Ed Good, President
Upper Ohio Valley
Central Labor Council,