Don't be the talking point on Workers' Memorial Day
"Safety starts with you." "Safety is priority number one." "Be cool and be safe." These slogans and many more have filled safety boards and posters ever since health and safety became something to abide by. Safety truly is something that doesn't happen overnight. At times employers look for a new way of doings things, a change in their safety culture, or to weed out the complacent and habitual "safety anarchist".
As a society we have come to know that a human being is a priceless and precious being in our world. We know the difference between right and wrong, and acknowledge when we are cutting corners; however, we only recognize these after a freak accident has happened or someone has died. On numerous occasions when we see a disaster occur it doesn't take long before someone is standing behind a podium declaring that a new law or regulation has to be put in place to stop it from ever happening again.
Many who step into work each day and go through the motions fail to remember that a lot of the safety regulations put in place today are a result of someone having to pay the price. Families ripped apart, careers ruined, catastrophic financial burdens and gravestones pock each letter and word that outlines every safety manual in our work place.
Because often too many people do not recognize safety as the gold ticket we need for survival, they have to be reminded.
Workers' Memorial Day, takes place annually around the world on April 28, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.
Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill health, and to promote campaigns and union organization in the fight for improvements in workplace safety. The slogan for the day is Remember the dead – Fight for the living.
Although April 28 is used as the focal point for remembrance and a day of international solidarity, campaigning and other related activities continue around the world throughout the year.
April 28th is also the day OSHA was established in 1971. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. 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.
We are ever reminded by the lives lost and sacrificed as we read memorials or scan the O.S.H.A death ticker. We hold our hands on our face as we hear that someone close to us died on the job. We use worker deaths in our training class as an example of what happens when corners are cut. Unfortunately, after safety corners are cut, so are the corners in the grass that open the ground for eternity. You cannot turn back from that.
As safety professionals we ask ourselves "will the rate of deaths ever reach 0?" and the simple answer to that is "we hope". Understanding that anytime you add the human element and decision making based on so many variables, all it takes is a half a second for someone to become a statistic.
If we can remember one simple rule to build our day it would be do not end up as the talking point on Workers' Memorial Day, because we know we will have survived and have gone home to a hug and the love we look forward to every single day.