NSC encourages worker recognition and protection of America’s workforce
National Safety Council (NSC) President and Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Martin issued the following statement to recognize Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28, 2020, and urge business leaders across the country to prioritize safety at work today and in a post-pandemic world. With 5,250 workplace deaths in 2018, work-related fatalities in the U.S. have reached the highest number reported since 2008, when they totaled 5,214. The pandemic has further complicated employers’ role in keeping their workers safe.
“Every year on April 28, we observe Workers’ Memorial Day to remember and honor those who lost their lives on the job. This year, our hearts are especially heavy as the safety of so many loved ones working on the front lines is impacted by this pandemic. I am calling on my fellow business leaders across the country to ask what more we can do to make sure our workers get home safely at the end of the day.
“For more than 100 years, NSC has been a partner to employees to address safety challenges in times of great uncertainty. Now, more than ever, we remain committed to help businesses protect workers from all hazards, all the time.
“That commitment is what led to the formation of SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns, a comprehensive, multifaceted effort to help employers ensure that safety is at the core of all business decisions. Comprised of nonprofit organizations, businesses, medical professionals, government agencies and trade associations, the SAFER task force will develop guidelines and recommendations to help employers through the process of safely resuming traditional work and operations.
“NSC is able to remain steadfast in our mission of eliminating preventable injuries and deaths so people can live their fullest lives because of generous philanthropic support. Thanks to this support, NSC is able to stay nimble and address the safety of all of our partners in new ways in response to the world’s current landscape. I challenge other businesses and individuals to make a donation to NSC today either in honor of Worker’s Memorial Day or #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 so we can continue our efforts to keep people safe.
“We need to keep our workers safe today so we can have a healthy workforce when it comes time to return to our usual work environments and routines. So, today, let’s honor those lost and commit to do more to protect the workers of tomorrow.”
An NSC survey found that 58 percent of Americans working in construction — the industry that sees the most workplace fatalities each year — feel that safety takes a back seat to productivity and completing job tasks. What’s more, 51 percent say management does only the minimum required by law to keep employees safe, and 47 percent say employees are afraid to report safety issues. Of the 4,836 people who died in workplace incidents in 2015, 937 of those killed were construction workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls are the second-leading cause of death in the workplace, and more than half of fall-related deaths each year occur in the construction industry.
With Building Safety Month starting, the International Code Council demonstrates its commitment to keep everyone safe, on every job, every day. A global month-long campaign to raise awareness about the importance of safety across the construction industry, the 40th annual Building Safety Month starts May 1, 2020, provides homeowners, government officials, construction professionals and the public with the necessary information for ensuring safety in the spaces where they live, work and learn.
Safety in the built environment is an essential component of maintaining public health, making Building Safety Month more relevant now than ever. Join us in celebrating virtually through social media (#BuildingSafety365), online events and digital educational materials.