It has been a year since the last Workers Memorial Day. On April 28 we remember the U.S. workers who died or were injured on the job. The pandemic was just beginning but we knew even then that many workers did not have adequate workplace health & safety protections from COVID-19. Outbreaks at meatpacking factories and other parts of the food system, as well as among health care workers, and transit workers left many essential workers infected or dead. However, infection data by occupation or industry is limited because of a lack of comprehensive national surveillance systems. The AFL-CIO released a Death on the Job report in October 2020 (another will be available May 2021) with some data on COVID-19 infection and death by industry, joining the data routinely collected by the BLS that shows around 5,000+ workers die on the job from traumatic injuries every year (14 workers per day) and another 95,000 are estimated to die from occupational illnesses.
It has been over 50 years since the passing of the OSH Act in 1970, a hard won battle by the labor movement and other worker adocates to regulate and enforce worker health and safety. This year many workers organized and used their voices to call for adequate personal protection equipment, physical distancing, mandated mask wearing, and regulations to enforce these provisions. The labor movement and other worker groups have helped to pass emergency temporary standards to enforce workplace protections against COVID-19 in some states. Please sign on to this letter to support efforts by National COSH and OXFAM to urge President Biden and Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh to issue an ETS to protect frontline workers from the pandemic. There are also a series of cases posted by the Healthy Work Campaign showing efforts to reduce COVID-19 work-related stressors. In a recent editorial in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) we discuss that exposure to work stressors only worsen COVID-19 health outcomes, including increasing the risk of death.
Check out these links to events or Workers Memorial Day resources:
Register for National COSH National Workers’ Memorial Week Speak Out / Press Event
Tuesday, April 27th, 2pm Eastern / 1pm Central / 11am Pacific