On April 28, 2017, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades joins the rest of the labor movement in observing Workers Memorial Day. This annual event honors and remembers workers who have died on the job, and rallies those still on the job to fight for safe working conditions. Every year, thousands of workers are killed while performing their duties on the job site, while even more sustain serious injuries. Although organized labor has played a pivotal role in the fight for safe working environments, we still have a long way to go.
The IUPAT and the other unions of the AFL-CIO have worked hard to put rules in place that protect workers from job hazards, as well as rules that hold employers accountable for providing workers with safe working conditions. However, there is still a number of business groups and contractors who are determined to eliminate existing protections and rights for construction employees. Those businesses in question want to contract out dangerous work without taking any responsibility for the employees who work in these hazardous environments.
The High Toll of Job Injuries, Illnesses and Deaths
- 4,836 workers were killed on the job in the United States.
- The fatal injury rate—3.4 per 100,000 workers—remained the same as the rate in 2014.
- An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 workers died from occupational diseases.
- 150 workers died each day from hazardous working conditions.
- Nearly 3.7 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported.
- Underreporting is widespread—the true toll is 7.4 million to 11.1 million injuries each year.
With the recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the progress the labor movement has made in safety and health protections has been jeopardized. Although he is barely 100 days into his presidency, Trump and his administration have launched an attack on safety regulations put in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
This Workers Memorial Day, let’s honor those we have lost on the job and continue to fight for safe working conditions for our members.
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