Workers' lives matter

For Workers' Memorial Day, Paula encourages us to consider the importance of health and safety in our workplaces and how it can save and change lives.

Every year at this time we take a moment to recognise the plight of those killed or injured at work.  It’s easy to forget how far we have come in the UK in protecting workers' lives.  The numbers indicating how many people die annually as a consequence of work both globally and in the UK may vary depending upon where you obtain the information, as do the numbers relating to people made ill from work, but the point is, workers' lives matter and the Health and Safety at Work Act is a cornerstone in our fight for protection.

Think about the mother who has just lost her child through an accident on a construction site.

Think about the grandchild who is witness to the suffering and ultimate death of their grandfather to mesothelioma.

Think about the individual who has lost their partner at far too early an age to a cancer brought about through workplace exposure to a dangerous substance.

No one should die just because of the work they do.  This is why we as trade unionists commemorate International Workers' Memorial Day, and it's why PCS campaigns for workplace health and safety laws.

This year’s Workers' Memorial Day theme is concerned with exposure to dangerous substances and the importance of removing them from the workplace.  HSE’s Chemical Regulation Division plays an important role in the regulation and restriction of chemicals and other substances in the workplace and the natural environment.

HSE trade union members are at the forefront of this work, delivering scientific research, policy development, enforcement and justice when things go wrong.  But the effectiveness of all of this depends upon the prevailing politics of the day, and we live in uncertain times.  The detail of Brexit and possible future international trade deals all have the ability to erode the H&S standards workers in the UK currently enjoy.

An independent and appropriately resourced Regulator is the basis for protecting the health of workers and the public in the UK. HSE trade unions have been instrumental in ensuring this is recognised not only in HSE but in the wider trade union movement, and political and public arenas.

On Workers' Memorial Day though our job is simple, we must remember those who have died because of work activities, and continue to fight for the living.

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