A Day to Remember

Forget-me-not

28 April each year is International Workers’ Memorial Day (#IWMD20 #IWMD2020)

This year International Workers’ Memorial Day has a special poignancy. Like many people, last Thursday I took part in #ClapForCarers joining friends and neighbours, each on own doorsteps, to applaud NHS staff, key workers and carers. These are people for whom the risk of going to work has risen significantly in recent weeks.

Yet they still go.

Already, 82 NHS workers have died helping to save others, and recent reports from care homes demonstrate an increased risk there as well. However, we shouldn’t forget pharmacy staff, utilities workers, delivery drivers, refuse collectors, people working in food supply and retail, and many others, putting themselves at risk keeping essential services running.

Right now, taking adequate time to assess and mitigate against work related risks has rarely been more important.

In recent years, increasing numbers of people have described taking precautions to prevent work activities from injuring people as “health & safety gone mad”.  However, that view disrespects the aim to make sure people go home as healthy as they were when they arrived at work.  In spite of those measures, Health & Safety Executive statistics for last year make stark reading:

From: HSE Health & Safety Statistics 2018/19

And that’s in the UK where we’ve had the Health & Safety at Work Act in place since 1974.

Covid-19 aside, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), across the world:

  • Each year, more than 2.3 million men and women die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases
  • Workers suffer approximately 340 million accidents each year and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of work-related illnesses
  • One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide. 6,000 workers die every day.
  • More people die whilst at everyday work than those fighting wars.

International Workers’ Memorial Day is a reminder not to be complacent, to avoid seeing common sense anticipation of ‘accidents’ (and taking steps to stop them from happening) as an unnecessary imposition.

But, right now, IMWD is an opportunity to bring to mind everyone who is at risk, for whatever reason because of their job, and thank those who gave their lives in the past as well as those who continue to risk theirs for the rest of us.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this subject, so please leave a comment, but if you’d like to discuss this topic more directly please contact me at malcolm@strathesk.co.uk or give me a call on 07736068787.