Health & Safety

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Workers Memorial Day 28 April 2014

7 April 2014

International Workers Memorial Day takes place annually around the world on April 28 every year. On this day, the CWU along with other Unions across the World remember those workers, especially CWU members, who have died at work. Trade unionists around the world join together to mark this day of mourning.

Workers' Memorial Day poster 2014

This worldwide day of reflection is a day of remembrance for workers killed, injured or made ill by their work was designated to honour the workers who have died at work of occupational injuries or illnesses and those injured or made ill by work every year. It is also a day on which workers call for safer workplaces and working conditions.

Theme for 2014

This year the theme is 'Protecting Workers around the World through Strong Regulation, Enforcement and Union Rights'.

Following representations from British trade unions and the TUC, the ITUC agreed a theme for Workers Memorial Day in 2014. It was agreed that given the relative proximity of the European Elections and also the fourth anniversary of the 'anti-health and safety' UK Coalition Government, it was agreed to focus activities around these issues.

The TUC and CWU believe that we should use the day to highlight the need for strong regulation an national, European and global level. We need to stop companies in the UK from benefitting from the lack of health and safety standards that lead to disasters such as the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over 1,100 workers. We also need a strong strategy on health and safety from the European Commission which will raise standards throughout Europe, while in the UK we need an end to the cuts in enforcement and regulation and instead action to tackle the huge number of occupational diseases and injuries.

CWU Conference and Workers Memorial Day 2014

Because this year's Annual Conference has moved forward from the traditional May/June time to late April, Workers Memorial Day will fall on the Monday of Conference.

  • WMD Purple forget-me-not ribbons will be provided to all Conference delegates and visitors in the Conference Venue.
  • A minute's silence will be held by the Conference.
  • General Secretary Billy Hayes will give a special WMD address to conference


The Workers Memorial Day purpose and slogan behind Workers Memorial Day is "Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living". Workers' Memorial Day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.

The TUC, all UK Trade Unions along with those in Europe and across the World will be focusing on these areas, by considering commemoration events or memorials to remember all those killed through work but at the same time committing to fight to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building strong trade union organisation, representation and campaigning for stricter enforcement of safety laws and standards with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.

Decades of struggle by workers and their Unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions. But the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. Each year, two million workers die due to unsafe or unhealthy work and workplaces around the globe. Millions more are injured or diseased because of their jobs. Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. Workers' Memorial Day commemorates those workers.

International Statistics

The United Nations (UN) International Labour Organisation (ILO) has a tripartite structure giving an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes. The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

The following information is published by the UN ILO.

  • Each year, more than two million men and women 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 -related illnesses.
  • Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually - asbestos claims 100,000 lives.
  • One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide. 6,000 workers die every day. More people die whilst at work than those fighting wars.

UK Statistics

Health and Safety Eecutive

In UK for 2012/13 the HSE provisionally reports 150 fatalities in work-places; however this figure excludes the majority of workers killed at work, and ignores all those dying from poor working conditions.

Hazards Campaign

Hazards estimates of work related death due to work-related incidents in 2012-2013 was 1,500:

  • 150 workers reported to HSE under RIDDOR.
  • 50 workers killed at sea and in the air.
  • 1000 killed in work related traffic incidents (a third to half of all Road Traffic fatalities).
  • 100 Members of the public.
  • 300 suicides due to pressures of work.

Hazards Campaign estimates of those killed by work-related illness each year is:

  • 18,000 by work related cancer .
  • 20,000 by heart disease due to work related stress (long hours and shift work).
  • 6,000 respiratory illnesses (obstructive lung disease).
  • 6,000 other diseases including restrictive lung diseases.