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From 2010 the UK will officially recognise Workers Memorial Day to commemorate thousands of people who have died, been seriously injured or made ill through their work

Sheila Pantry OBE
February 2010

This follows the UK Government's consultation in July to explore options for official recognition of the day, which gained widespread support.

This year, the UK will join the many other countries around the world that officially recognise the Day on 28 April, the International Day of Action for Safety and Health at Work. Formal recognition will reinforce the significance of the Day and raise awareness of the number of people who are killed, disabled, injured or made unwell through their work.

This is a tribute to all those who have campaigned long and hard, including bereaved families, trade unions, campaign groups, and many other organisations and individuals.

For the first time, the UK will join countries across the globe in remembrance of all those killed at work and for the families they have left behind, and the many more who have been harmed. It is also a spur to greater efforts to improve health and safety for today's and tomorrow's working population.

While the UK has one of the best health and safety records in the world, official figures show that 180 people were killed at work last year and over 27,000 suffered major injury. Around 8,000 each year die from occupational cancers and lung diseases.

There have been an increasing number of commemorative events in the UK in recent years as Workers Memorial Day has become a focal point for bereaved families, unions, campaign organisations and local authorities among others. As more people have become involved in these events, there has been growing support for formal recognition of the Day.

Commemorations will continue to be led by individuals, employers, trade unions and community organisations. In keeping with the outcome of the consultation, the UK Government and Ministers will help support and encourage commemorations to be held on the day itself throughout the UK.

Workers Memorial Day originated in Canada in 1984. The day is also recognised in other countries. It is now recognised as a national day in 19 countries.

Since 1989 trade unions in the UK, USA, Asia, Europe and Africa have organised events on and around 28 April. This date was chosen for International Workers Memorial Day as it is the anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the USA and also commemorates the day that 28 people were killed in a construction accident in Connecticut.

Workers Memorial Day has been informally recognised in the UK since 1992.

In 2001 the International Labour Organisation recognised Workers Memorial Day and announced April 28 as an International Day of Action for Safety and Health at Work, which is an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work around the globe.

Update your 2010 Diary

Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events and you will see plans have been made already worldwide up to 2011 to have training courses, symposiums and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects - see details in the Diary of Events.

One way of keeping up to date is to go to exhibitions and the world's major OSHE events.

Remember that even if you cannot attend these many events, speakers and organisers are often willing to share their knowledge. Look at the details - where possible, I add in the web sites of these events so you can request further information. And do let me know if you are organising any OSHE events so that I can add them to the Diary.

Your OSHWorld Portal

On Your OSHWORLD portal will lead you to find new items of interest. Globally there are continually new titles, news items, new products so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of countries. Use OSHWORLD as your portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites which you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace.

This month's FOCUS article is entitled Don't oversimplify accidents by Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's Occupational Safety Adviser.

Remember to look at the Products and Services on this web site and see what is new and updated.

Likewise OSH UPDATE brings together 19 quality databases and over 803,000 records containing both full text and bibliographic information.

Both OSH UPDATE and FIREINF are continuously enlarged as new information is published. These services are used by organisations, universities and companies worldwide.

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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.

Are you having a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2009 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying!

And do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2010 and beyond!