SIOUX FALLS, SD ‒ Every 99 minutes, about one worker suffers fatal injuries and fails to return home safely at their work day’s end. That’s 15 workers a day, 100 a week, more than 5,200 a year – a frightening reality, but one that the nation’s employers can change by following workplace safety and health standards and regulations.
“Every day essential workers put their lives at-risk amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many were sickened or died just because they went to work. On Workers Memorial Day we honor and remember every worker who has lost their lives on the job.”
On April 28, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the nation annually recognize Workers Memorial Day. The day honors those who lost their lives on the job, and recognizes the impact these tragic losses have on families, co-workers and communities. This year, we also recognize that, more than a year into the pandemic, everyday essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives at-risk amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, OSHA investigated 11 South Dakota workplace fatalities including four pandemic-related deaths.
“This year, our Workers Memorial Day commemoration recognizes those essential workers sickened or killed by just going to work – simply doing their best to support their families and keep the rest of us safe and healthy. The pandemic has taken a horrible toll on workers in hospitals, grocery stores, meatpacking plants and schools, along with first responders, delivery drivers and sanitation workers. We cannot forget their sacrifices,” said OSHA Regional Area Director Shelia Stanley in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Today, we also affirm OSHA’s commitment to protecting U.S. workers. A safe and healthy workplace isn’t a privilege, it’s every workers right.”
April 28 also marks the 50th anniversary of enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA’s creation.
Learn more about Workers Memorial Day and events throughout the nation. Read the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 national census of fatal occupational injuries. BLS reports 20 South Dakota worker fatalities in 2019. Transportation incidents resulted in 11 fatal work injuries while contact with objects and equipment accounted for four fatalities. Nationally, transportation incidents were the leading cause of fatal work injuries, accounting for 40 percent of all fatalities.
On March 12, 2021, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law. Read about feasible and acceptable means of abatement for this hazard and OSHA’s COVID-19 information and resources.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.
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