Labor Department Honors Fallen Missouri Workforce
National Workers Memorial Day Celebrated on April 28
More than 100 people gathered at the Missouri State Capitol on April 28 to pay tribute to Missouri workers who lost their lives in 2009 while on the job. The ceremony was led by Missouri Labor Department Director Larry Rebman, whose purpose was to honor these workers and promote safer workplaces. Several family members of the deceased workers also attended the ceremony. To further honor these workers and to promote safer workplaces, Gov. Jay Nixon proclaimed April 25 through May 1 as Workers Memorial Week in Missouri.
“Workers Memorial Day is a day to remember the 116 Missouri workers that lost their lives at work during 2009 and to rededicate our efforts to protecting those that go to work every day,” said Rebman.
“During this week, we ask that all citizens take a moment to remember those workers who went to work and never came home,” said Hugh McVey, President of the Missouri AFL-CIO. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends they left behind.”
Workers Memorial Day is a nationwide observance, a tradition begun by the AFL-CIO in 1989. April 28 was chosen as the annual observance date because it is the anniversary of the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the day of a similar remembrance in Canada.
In 2008, 5,071 workers were killed due to job hazards in the United States. That is a 10 percent decrease from the 5,657 fatal work injuries recorded nationwide in 2007. During that same time, a total of 147 fatal work injuries were recorded in Missouri. That figure represents a 6 percent decrease from the 156 fatal work injuries reported in the state for the previous year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation accidents, which include highways, roads, air, and water, were the leading event or exposure of fatal work injuries in 2007 and 2008.
The Missouri Labor Department offers free workplace safety training and programs to high-hazard businesses with 250 or fewer employees. Participation in the On-Site Safety and Health Program can lead to a reduction in workplace injuries and fatalities, as well as a reduction in the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance and out-of-pocket expenses.
The Department’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) rewards small businesses that maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Once qualified, participants become members of the SHARP and benefit by achieving a reduction in workplace hazards, improved morale, increased worker productivity, and paying reduced workers’ compensation premiums.
To further ensure workplace safety, a new law took effect on Aug. 28, 2009, which requires all contractors and subcontractors who work on public works projects to train their on-site employees on potential hazards they may encounter while working on the project, by taking a 10 hour OSHA construction safety class. If an on-site employee is found without proper documentation showing the course was completed, a $2,500 fine, plus $100 per day will be assessed to the contractor for each noncompliant employee.