This Saturday marks Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring workers killed or injured on the job. A variety of events will be taking place in Pennsylvania and across the nation, including wreath presentations, candlelight vigils and programs recognizing those men and women killed while working during the past year.

Workers’ Memorial Day also marks forty years since the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). During the past four decades significant strides have been made in preventing workplace injuries and fatalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 1970, when OSHA was passed, more than 14,000 workers were killed on the job nationally. This number fell to 4,574 in 2010.

Of course, the death of even one worker is too many. “No one should die trying to make a living,” stated the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. “…our work is not done as long as we have to come back here every year and read the names of our dead sisters and brothers,” he added.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania workplace fatalities have risen in recent years. Workplace deaths increased from 168 in 2009 to 219 in 2010. This increase occurred despite fewer individuals in the state’s workforce due to the weakened economy.

Moreover, nationally there were almost 3.1 million workplace illnesses and injuries reported by private employers in 2010.

Clearly, more work needs to be done to make working conditions safer. Hopefully as awareness of workplace safety issues increases, fewer workers will suffer injury or death while trying to make a living.

Source: MarketWatch, 12 Workers Are Killed On The Job Every Day In Our Country, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Press Release