Many Safety Managers know the significance of April 28th. Around the globe, it is recognized as Workers Memorial Day. A day to remember the people who lost their lives in the workplace. You may call it a Day of Mourning.
If you have ever had a coworker die or had to investigate a fatal accident, you understand the everlasting impression that it makes on you.
I have often said that the hardest part of the job is the balance between caring for employees and protecting the company’s liability. When dealing with a fatal accident, there is also the guilt for not being able to prevent it and the concern for the worker’s family.
The first fatal accident I had involved a manager who was struck by a drunk driver on his way to help his employees with a delivery. It was heartbreaking because a seatbelt would have saved his life. I remember trying to convince the family to take the worker’s compensation payout as an annuity to spread it out and give them time to adjust to their change of income. A perfect example of that balance. A perfect example of the guilt.
World Safety Day
The International Labour Organization also marks this day as World Day for Safety and Health.
Every year they choose a theme to be the focus for the year and they create materials businesses can use to promote the day.
It’s nice to combine the two days. “Yes, we know it is a somber day, but here’s something you can do to reduce injuries in the future.”
In 1970 the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) in the United States was passed. However, it wasn’t until April 28, 1971, that the Senate created OSHA. So this day is OSHA’s anniversary.
Giving us another reason to recognize the day.
How to Recognize Workers Memorial Day
Here are several ways that you can recognize this day.
Awareness, Posters, Newsletters
Make your employees aware that the day exists. You can put out an email, include it in your newsletter, talk about it during your pre-shift meeting, put up posters, or hand out flyers
Pictures – Why I work safely
Help your employees remember why their lives matter; why they work safely. Create a communication board with the title “Why I Work Safely” and have your employee bring in pictures of what is important to them to post on the board: family, kids, pets, motorcycles…
Moment of Silence
On April 28th, lead a moment of silence over the break room of the entire organization. This signifies how important this day is as well as how important you want them to take their safety.
Share stories of workers who lost their lives
Have employees speak up and share stories they know. Share stories from previous incidents in your organization. Scan the internet or OSHA.gov for stories of fatal incidents your employees could relate to
Review your High Hazard Tasks
Make your employees aware that you identified tasks that could cause a severe injury or a fatality. Review safe work practices to prevent injury. Express that you have these policies in place to save their lives.
Workers Memorial Day Can Be Hopeful
Be grateful to your employees, show your appreciation in however you recognize the day. But, use this day as a way to bring hope.
You have safe work practices in place – this creates hope that the stories and information you’re sharing will not happen to them.
Mark this day on your calendar and set a reminder a month earlier so you have time to plan a recognition day. It is a somber event, but should never be ignored.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Share this post on your social media, even with your non-safety friends, everyone should be aware of the significance of the day.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.