WASHINGTON – Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh today issued the following statement on Workers Memorial Day as the nation remembers those whose work claimed their lives:
“In the past year, nearly 5,000 workers left home for work and did not return. None knew that going to work would cost them their lives. While each life lost is a tragedy, those taken in incidents that might have been prevented – had their employers followed required safety and health standards – are especially painful for their families, their co-workers and friends, and their communities.
Today, we join the families of those workers we have lost on Workers Memorial Day to remember them, reflect on the difference they made in our lives and recognize the high cost of failing to adhere to workplace safety and health regulations.
Amid the losses of thousands of workers each year – 13 people a day on average – we have also endured the heightened risks brought by the coronavirus pandemic for more than two years. Many workers suffered fatal exposure to COVID-19 as they worked to care for our health, protect our safety and feed our families.
While we have made much progress toward safer workplaces, we must do more to ensure that employers understand and take responsibility for addressing workplace hazards and keep them from causing workplace fatalities. As our economy continues its recovery, we are determined to empower workers as well so they can recognize the hazards around them, and demand their rights to a safe workplace without fear of retaliation.
On Workers Memorial Day, we honor the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters whose lives ended tragically and, in their memory re-commit ourselves to our belief that no worker should ever have to trade their life for a paycheck.”