Remembering Our Fallen Workers on Worker’s Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial DayWorkers’ Memorial Day, also known as International Workers’ Memorial Day, is an annual day of remembrance and action observed around the world on April 28th. It’s a chance to:

  • Honor workers who have been killed, disabled, injured, or made sick by their work.
  • Call for improved workplace safety standards.
  • Renew efforts to prevent future tragedies.

The day also coincides with the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 going into effect in the United States. This law created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which works to ensure safer working conditions.

The CDC reports:

In 2022, work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,486 U.S. workers, an 5.7% increase from 2021. This number represents a rate of 3.7 fatal injuries per 100 full time equivalent workers. Although deaths resulting from work-related injuries are captured by surveillance systems, most deaths resulting from work-related illness are not. In 2007, an estimated 53,445 people died from work-related illness. In 2022, employers reported approximately 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses to private industry workers via the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. An estimate of the annual burden of chronic occupational illness in the U.S. is between 460,534 and 709,792 additional cases per year.

It’s dangerous to be a worker in North Dakota

Here in North Dakota, six workers did not make it home to their families in 2023. On Worker’s Memorial Day, we honor these workers. Scott Overson, of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Bismarck, says:

Those fatalities occurred across a wide range of industries including agriculture, construction and general industry.

Worker fatalities are sadly all too frequent in America and a tragic reminder of why better safety and health protections, and heightened awareness and education about workplace hazards are critical.

In related news, KFYR TV reports that North Dakota is the most dangerous state in the country in which to work, stating “North Dakota has the most OSHA work-related fatalities in the nation at 1.7 per a hundred thousand workers.”

AFL-CIO state president Landis Larson explains that North Dakota only has a federal OSHA program, while other states have state workers checking worksites. “I believe they said it would take 150 years for them to inspect every employer in the state,” he said.

Jobs involving agriculture, construction, oil fields, public protection, and transportation are more likely to have fatal injuries, says KFYR, while other states with stricter regulations have “fewer workplace injuries and deaths.”

Says the CDC, “While significant progress has occurred since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, much more remains to be made. Even as we continue efforts to eliminate the legacy hazards of the 20th Century, we are also called to address the emerging challenges of the 21st Century economy.”

Observing Worker’s Memorial Day

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration host a variety of events to observe Worker’s Memorial Day. You can see a list of events here.

We also urge you to visit the virtual Workers Memorial Wall, honoring and recognizing those who have lost their lives on the job.

You can also read President Biden’s proclamation from 2023, which reads in part:

A safe and healthy workplace is fundamental. In the United States of America, no one should have to risk their lives just to make a living. Today, we honor those workers who put it all on the line, and we keep their families in our hearts. We celebrate the whistleblowers and union organizers whose courage and persistence has saved countless lives, and we join them in standing up for all American workers, who are the best in the world.

So today, take a moment to reflect on the importance of workplace safety. No matter how you choose to observe Workers’ Memorial Day, it’s an important opportunity to remember the human cost of unsafe workplaces and advocate for a safer future for all workers.

At Larson Law Firm P.C., we honor and remember our fallen workers here in North Dakota and across the country. In the future, we hope for safer workplaces for all.

In the meantime, if you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a work-related accident, we can help. Call us today for a free consultation and see how our experienced workplace accident attorneys can help you secure the compensation to which you’re entitled. To schedule a meeting with an experienced lawyer, simply call our offices or fill out our contact form. We maintain offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Minot.