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Day of action to remember thousands killed and injured at work

27 April 2015

The thousands of people who have been killed, disabled, seriously injured or made ill through their work will be remembered during a day of action to commemorate their plight.

The UK will unite at the dozens of events being held to mark Workers’ Memorial Day on Tuesday, April 28. The events, held in honour of those who have suffered, also provide an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why, and what can be done differently going forward.

Workers’ Memorial Day is an internationally recognised event which gives people across the world the chance to remember those who were killed or seriously injured while doing their job or who suffer from work-related ill health, such as asbestos-related conditions.

This year, the theme will be "removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace” and people wishing to pay their respects can find their nearest memorial site at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC) website, which can be accessed via www.rospa.com/occupationalsafety/memorial/.

It includes details of the locations of memorials from plaques to pillars, as well as photographs, details of temporary commemorative sites, links to other sources of information and a diary of events.

Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s occupational safety and health policy adviser, said: "Workers’ Memorial Day is a significant day in the occupational calendar in which the thousands of people who have lost their lives in workplace accidents or suffered serious injury or ill health are commemorated.

"It is also a chance for people to make a stand against such tragedies and help prevent further needless accidents and deaths.

"Our comprehensive website provides all the information you need to get involved and take part in events tomorrow. Some of the memorials commemorate high-profile disasters that claimed the lives of many workers while others remember lesser-known accidents. In each case, there are lessons to be learned about how to prevent these happening again. We need to stop "new” people having "old” accidents by continuing to campaign for improvements in health and safety standards in businesses across the UK, and spread the good practice we have developed in the UK across the wider world.

"In 2013/14 133 people were killed at work, while a staggering 1.2million people suffered from a work-related illness, so it is an issue that cannot be ignored. We hope people will come together tomorrow to mark this significant day.”

Teresa Budworth, chairman of NOSHC, said: "Workers’ Memorial Day reminds us of why we’re here. As safety and health practitioners, our job is to save lives and prevent life changing injury and ill-health caused by work.

"It is a sad fact that much of our safety legislation was a response to events leading to significant loss of life. The Health and Safety at Work Act came about because of the tragic events at Aberfan [where more than 130 people were buried by a coal slag heap]. Doing our job to the best of our ability, safeguarding others and responding proportionately to risks, honours those who died in these tragic events.”