Remembering those we lost and fighting for the living on Workers Memorial Day

remembering-those-we-lost-and-fighting-for-the-living-on-workers-memorial-day“Safety first” is the motto for a lot of things in life, and going to work should be no different.

Unfortunately, more than 4,800 people died on the job in 2014, while 50,000 more died from diseases caused by workplace hazards. Additionally, it was found that public sector employees are at a higher risk than others.

Today is Workers Memorial Day, but it is important every day to prioritize safety in the workplace. AFSCME continuously fights and advocates for strong contracts that focus on workplace safety, and lobbies for laws that enforce it. Nonetheless, there is much work to be done.

Here in Pennsylvania, we are still mourning the loss of PennDOT employee and AFSCME member Christopher Kerns of Linden. He passed away after a car accident while driving a state van. Four of his coworkers were injured, but thankfully they survived. Our thoughts continue to be with his family, and the families of all the brothers and sisters we have lost on the job.

While some things seem difficult to avoid, there is always room for critical safety measures. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards do not cover many state and local government workers, and here in Pennsylvania, Council 13 is fighting for The Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill, or the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

If you see unsafe conditions on the job, speak up. Continue to advocate for strong, safety-focused contracts as well as comprehensive laws that will ensure the safest possible workplaces. If we set the standard high here in Pennsylvania, the rest of the nation will follow suit.

In memory of those who died, and in honor of those working today, be safe out there.