“Vital we commit ourselves to making a safer workplace for all workers”

#IWMD16 – Workers Memorial Day – Thursday 28th April 2016

The Government, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Congress), the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Ibec and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) collectively marked Workers Memorial Day Ireland the annual commemorative event this morning (Thursday 28th April), to remember people killed, injured and bereaved through workplace accidents.

The Irish memorial ceremony took place at the Royal Hibernian Academy this morning. The Government was represented by newly elected senator Gerald Nash, the acting Minister for Business and Employment. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions was represented by general secretary Patricia King, IMPACT was represented by general secretary Shay Cody and deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan.

Mr Callinan commented, “It’s vital that in commemorating those who have died or who’ve been injured in the workplace we commit ourselves to making a safer workplace for all workers. This is a central value to the trade union movement. As employment is once again growing in Ireland, we need to ensure that our collective vigilance, safety standards and appropriate resources are committed to making sure every worker operates in a safe environment.”

International

The memorial event is one of many taking place worldwide to mark International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers. Trade unions in more than 70 countries are marking the International Commemoration Day with a demand for ‘Strong laws, Strong enforcement and Strong unions’ as the only way to stop the carnage at work.

Congress general secretary Patricia King speaking at the Workers Memorial Day event at the Royal Hibernian Gallery (RHA)
Congress general secretary Patricia King speaking at the Workers Memorial Day event at the Royal Hibernian Gallery (RHA)

In the 10 year period between 2006 and 2015, 526 people were killed in work related accidents in Ireland and many thousands more badly injured. On average, more than one person a week died in work related accidents in Ireland in 2015, 56 deaths in total, with many more injured. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said that globally, one worker dies every 15 seconds due to employer negligence

Employers were represented at this morning’s event by the Construction Industry Federation and Ibec. The Health and Safety Authority was represented by assistant chief executive Brian Higgisson. The senior executives of each organisation jointly signed a letter promoting the commemorative day along with key safety, health and accident prevention messages.

‘Failure to act’

As ceremonies around the world take place on the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, the ITUC has warned negligent employers of the consequences of putting workers’ lives at risk. 

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “Over two million workers die needlessly every year because their workplaces are dusty, dirty and dangerous.  The risks are as obvious as they are preventable, whether they are falls from height, crippling workloads or chemical exposure.  Every single death represents an employer’s failure to act.”

Related:

There are over 2.3 million work-related deaths worldwide every year, over 6,000 every day or one every 15 seconds.

An estimated 660,000 workers die each year from occupational cancers, or over one every minute.

Academic studies have established a substantial union safety effect