The government today launched a consultation into officially recognising Workers Memorial Day to remember those who lose their lives at work.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Yvette Cooper confirmed the consultation would look at how the day could be officially recognised in the UK. The Government wants to give bereaved families, unions who represent workers, and the public, the opportunity to have their say about how they would like to mark the day and commemorate those who have died. She said:
“It is a tragedy that some people go out to work and then never return home to their families. I want to look at what the UK can do to remember the thousands of workers who have lost their lives.
“I know there are many ideas for consideration, including a lasting memorial. Many countries already recognise Workers Memorial Day, to commemorate those who have been killed, seriously injured or made ill through work.”
Despite the UK having one of the best health and safety records in the world, there were still 180 workplace fatalities in Britain in 2008/09. Many more die as a result of diseases incurred when they are working. Every year, for example, there are around 4,000 cancer deaths due to past exposure to asbestos, and every working day, over 400 people are seriously injured at work. Accidents and ill health are estimated to cost society £20bn a year.
Following its inception in Canada in 1984, Workers Memorial Day is already recognised as a national day in many countries around the world including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Luxembourg, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan and the USA.
Since the early 1990s, the day has become the focal point for an increasing number of commemorative events involving the bereaved, trade unionists, the TUC, Government bodies and Local Authorities among others.
The consultation is published today and runs until 19 October 2009. For further information please follow the link: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/