Today is Workers Memorial Day, a moment to recall people who died or who were injured or were made ill on the job during the previous year.
A Presidential proclamation notes that this year is the 40th anniversary of both the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, “which promise American workers the right to a safe workplace and require employers to provide safe conditions.”
Of course, as this day passes, people are still mourning the loss of 29 miners at the April 5 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in Raleigh County and 11 workers killed in the oil platform explosion off the coast of Louisiana on April 20. To that list, the White House adds seven more workers killed in a refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, on April 2 and four more workers killed in a power plant explosion in Middletown, Connecticut on Feb. 7.
These recent deaths have put workplace safety higher on our minds lately. But as President Obama’s proclamation points out, “most workplace deaths result from tragedies that claim one life at a time through preventable incidents or disabling disease.”
Also, this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control featured new data on injuries and deaths among young workers, something for employers, parents and young workers to keep in mind at the start of the summer season. The rate of injury to workers aged 15 to 24 has decreased during the past 10 years, but not a significant amount.
Between 1998 and 2007, 5719 young workers died on the job, or about 572 a year. The rate is higher for Hispanic youth than non-Hispanic youth.
Young workers are also overrepresented in jobs with injury hazards, the CDC reports.