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International Workers' Memorial Day

Today, as with 28 April every year, is International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day where worldwide we remember all those who went to work, but never returned home due to accident or work-related ill health.

Everyone in the health and safety profession aims to put a halt to such fatalities in the way they do their job and promote good health and safety practises.

Our Memorial website lists just a few of those who have died in the course of their work.

The health and safety of our nation has never in peacetime been more important as it is now. The current novel COVID-19 pandemic will affect us all for years to come, and social distancing measures in the workplace will be in place for a long time yet.

Sadly the figures for work related deaths and ill health in the workplace will be far higher than usual due to coronavirus. As of 27 April, 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff had died due to the virus in England. There will be a national minutes silence at 11am on 28 April to remember them. Please join in.

Workers memorial, St Helens

It must be pointed out that only certain coronavirus deaths are recorded as work related. They are those reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). For coronavirus, the only cases that should be reported by employers are when:

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.

  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.

  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

This year, in a time of pandemic, it seems more important than ever that we take a moment to remember those who have died at work, due to poor health and safety practices, accidents or work related ill health.

Take a moment today to remember our colleagues who are no longer with us, whether they died during this COVID disaster, or in times gone by.

Today is also World Day for Safety and Health at Work, so use the day to plan for COVID-19 in your workplace.

This is more than social distancing. It is also about cleaning, particularly touch points and commonly used areas like toilets. It is about what to do if someone at work shows symptoms. It's about using less staff on site. It's about helping those who are vulnerable or whose families are vulnerable. It's about protecting your employees from abusive customers. It's about limiting the likelihood of adding extra burden to the NHS. It may be about crowd management, particularly if you deal with the public. It's about business continuity. Above all it is about clear concise communication.

Make sure you have detailed policies, risk assessments, method statements and training in place in your business, and keep them up to date.