Nearly 5,200 workers died on the job in the United States in
2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. There were more
than 900 workplace fatalities in Canada that same year.
The IBEW joins its fellow unions in both countries each year on April 28 — Workers Memorial Day in the U.S., the National Day of Mourning in Canada — to take a few moments to remember those who have suffered and died on the job, and to renew the fight for safe jobs for all workers.
“Each time a worker dies on the job, the impact is felt just as deeply by the family members, friends and co-workers who are left behind,” said IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson.
In the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in December that falls and electrocutions were two of the top causes of private-sector worker deaths in the construction industry in 2016, while in Canada, the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards said that construction and manufacturing were two of the top fields reporting workers’ deaths that year.
“Meanwhile, under-reported injuries and illnesses remain a serious problem, as do occupational diseases that go unrecognized by unfair compensation rules,” Stephenson said. “And too many injuries or illnesses go completely unreported because workers can’t afford to take the time off.”
Stephenson encouraged all IBEW members to work as safely as possible to help prevent injuries and fatalities – and to make sure to report them to the International Office if they do happen.
“Safety is the most important reason the IBEW exists,” he said. “It’s the first element of the Code of Excellence because, without it, none of the rest of what we fight for matters.”
Organizing also remains one of the most effective ways workers can change things for the better, Stephenson said, as is voting for candidates who are committed to improving workplace health and safety.
“Unions and union allies in both countries continue to work hard to make job safety a reality,” he said. “We are committed to fight until all workers have safe jobs and the freedom to form unions to seek a better future.
“On Worker’s Memorial Day, let’s pause to remember those brothers and sisters we’ve lost and recommit ourselves to working safely and ensuring that each year, fewer working men and women fall victim to tragic workplace accidents.”