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ASSE Remembers Fallen Workers, Urges Focus on Prevention

Posted in on Mon, Apr 30, 2012

DES PLAINES, IL (April 28, 2012) – American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, CPSI, said ASSE will shine a bright light on injury and illness prevention in honor of those workers who died from on-the-job injuries as it commemorates the annual April 28 Workers Memorial Day.

Workers’ Memorial Day was started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1984. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28 the anniversary of a comprehensive Workers Compensation Act passed in 1914. The goal of Workers Memorial Day is to remember persons killed, injured or disabled from workplace injuries or illnesses.

According to the International Labor Organization, (ILO-  http://www.ilo.org/global/lang–en/index.htm), worldwide each year more than two million people die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases; workers suffer approximately 270 million accidents each year, and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of work -related illnesses; hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually – asbestos claims 100,000 lives; and one worker dies every 15 seconds. In the U.S., 4,547 workers died from on-the-job injuries from on-the-job illnesses in 2010.

“Years ago, as I walked into the ASSE Hawaii Chapter’s Pacific Rim Conference I saw a table set apart from the rest,” Norris said in her April 2012 Professional Safety editorial. “It was set up for a single diner. The napkin was folded with care, and a small vase contained a single rose. A dim melancholy light glowed above the empty seat at the table set in a darkened corner. I don’t recall the words of the memorial poem that was read, but I remember the sorrow I felt.

“That empty chair symbolized all those who had died on the job, the ones we couldn’t save,” Norris wrote. “Every day, there is another empty chair somewhere in the world. On April 28 and every day we remember those lost – colleagues and loved ones. As we remember and honor their lives, let’s also keep our collective focus on the importance of our continuous efforts to reduce fatalities and injuries.”

The more than 34,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professional members of ASSE work every day to make sure those who go to work leave work injury and illness free to return home every night. ASSE members work with employers and workers to assure everyone has the right to make a living without impacting their safety and health. Each day, close to 300 million people go to work in the U.S and most leave work injury and illness free due, in part, to the work of SH&E professionals.

Additionally, this May 6-12, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and 44 organizations representing all industries with operations worldwide will join ASSE and its members in promoting North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. NAOSH Week is one of the many tools ASSE and its members use to reach out to the public and provide best practices, tips and programs aimed at educating people on how to stay safe at work and the impact safety has on everyone’s quality of life.

“We will shine a bright light on injury and illness prevention for NAOSH Week. On May 9 we will recognize those who strive to eliminate work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses for Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day,” Norris said. “We urge everyone to reach out in their communities to not only support those businesses and employees who have effective work safety programs, but to those that may be in need of resources or best practices such as small businesses.

“As we remember those lost, all those empty chairs, let’s recommit ourselves to shining a light on prevention, to making a difference for those who remain,” Norris said.

Founded in 1911, the 101-year-old Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. To find tools to support NAOSH Week, to order a free NAOSH 2012 poster, to find a list of sponsors and how to salute a safety professional please go to www.asse.org/naosh .

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