Honor fallen workers by doing your part for safety

In 2021, 5,190 workers died on the job in the U.S., including 34 in North Dakota (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Each day, 14 people suffer work-related deaths.

These numbers remind us of the dangers many workers face. Behind these numbers, there are people who mourn each loss. For them, these statistics are loved ones: they’re parents, children, siblings, relatives, friends or co-workers. Of these fallen North Dakota workers, 30 were men and four were women. Eleven were close to retirement at 65 years of age or older.

For those left behind the day their loved one was lost becomes a sad remembrance. Graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special times are forever tainted.

To pay tribute to those whose jobs claimed their lives, April 28 is Workers Memorial Day. An opportunity for us to pause and join those families, friends, and co-workers to recall those who suffered work-related injuries and illnesses. The remembrance also recognizes the grief that their survivors face in the days, months, and years after.

Workers Memorial Day also reminds us that more must be done to prevent workplace deaths and injuries. For those of us at the U.S. Department of Labor and, specifically, its Occupational Safety and Health Administration, this annual commemoration reinforces our commitment to developing and enforcing standards and initiatives to safeguard workers and guide employers as they work to provide safe workplaces.

Remember, we all have a role to play in making sure our nation’s workplaces do not endanger our safety and health. If you see people exposed to workplace dangers, don’t ignore your concerns. Alert the employer or contact your local OSHA office or law enforcement agency. Demand that the stores you frequent, the companies that get your business, and those you hire don’t endanger the people they employ. If they won’t, take your business to those who respect their workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace, and who don’t put profit ahead of the lives of the people who help them earn it.

On Workers Memorial Day 2023, let’s remember those who didn’t return home after work and commit ourselves to making sure that no one is forced to trade their life for a paycheck.

Scott Overson is the area director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Bismarck.


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