On Workers Memorial Day we commemorate all those who have perished on the job. No worker should be exposed to fatal injuries and illnesses at work, yet every day 150 men and women die from a work injury or occupational disease. Their deaths remind us that Americans still – in 2015 — face too many dangers at the workplace.
As a third-generation coal miner, I am all too familiar with the fear and uncertainty of not knowing whether a loved one will come home safe and healthy from a day’s work.
As we mourn the dead we should remember to fight for the living. This year, our brothers and sisters from the United Steel Workers went on strike in February to highlight the need for tighter safety regulations at refineries across the country. During the strike, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in California injured four workers and shook neighborhoods for miles around, reinforcing the need for corporations to do more to address refinery safety.
We also are deeply appreciative of the work done by health workers in the wake of the Ebola crisis, both abroad and at home. Hundreds of healthcare workers cared for the sick. Due to subpar protections offered by employers, many aid providers themselves fell ill with the disease. No one providing a service to the community should risk his or her life due to lack of effective protective gear.
While we have made great strides in making workplaces safer, too many hardworking people both in this country and around the world continue to be hurt or killed on the job.
Today and every day, we must strive to achieve safe workplaces for every worker and demand that lawmakers create good jobs that ensure the dignity and safety every worker deserves.