International Workers Memorial Day


April 28 is International Workers' Memorial Day, it commemorates people who have been killed through work and hopes to raise awareness so such tragedies are not repeated. The theme for the day this year is, "Removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace".

Workers Memorial Day 2015

Hazardous Substance Exposure

A hazardous substance can be anything ranging from exposure to asbestos, to exposure to tobacco in certain environments. Even health care workers can be at risk from exposure to hazardous substances like blood and feces in their working environment.

Phillip Gower, our Partner specialising in industrial disease, believes that many people don't realise that their profession could put them at risk:

"People may think that their working environment doesn't have the potential to expose them to harm. Anyone could be at risk, from office workers unwittingly working with asbestos in their building, to cleaners inhaling dangerous fluids."

"Sadly, you only come to realise that you have been exposed to something dangerous when you become unwell. We have many clients who only find that they were exposed to asbestos after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer, at which point the disease is fatal."

Employers' Responsibility

Employers are still not doing enough to protect their employees from dangers in the workplace. Safety provisions that can help protect workers are still not being provided by many employers.

Phillip advises that "we need to continue raising awareness. This is the only way to prompt a change in the attitude of the government and see more being done to enforce health and safety legislation."

Is the Government Hindering Claims?

Due to sweeping changes in the civil justice system in 2013, compensation claims against employers are less harmful to the employer's business, and people are discouraged from claiming compensation.

Emma Costin, our Director of Complex Personal Injury, comments:

"All matters relating to 'Elf and Safety' and the so called 'compensation culture' are easy targets. Yet health and safety legislation is deadly serious – it protects the most precious thing that any of us have – our life and physical well being. Every year we remember those who have died due to their work on International Workers' Memorial Day. Every year we reflect on those deaths that could, and should, have been prevented."

"The government and the insurance industry in the guise of freeing businesses from red tape and stamping down on 'compensation culture' seem determined to prevent workers from accessing advice from experienced solicitors so fewer claims are being made. Employers can benefit from this competitive advantage by cutting corners in respect of the safety of their workers. Ultimately, there will be more workers who will pay the price."

Taking Part

There are many memorial meetings scheduled to take place across the UK, so it has never been easier to take part.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) also recommend that people should get in touch with their trade union to find out how they can take part in local events, or if not, to organise an awareness event with people at work.

Purple 'forget me not' ribbons are a symbol of International Workers' Memorial Day, so getting together to hand these out is also a good way to get involved.

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