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Workers' Memorial Day "more important than ever"
An increase in the number of victims of industrial disease and workplace accidents has underlined the importance of Workers’ Memorial Day, the annual international event which honours those who have lost their lives through their work.
Speaking just days before the 2013 event on 28 April, Bridget Collier, head of the Industrial Disease department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said there had been another year-on-year rise in the number of people contacting the specialist lawyers after developing asbestos-related diseases or losing loved ones to accident or illness as a result of their work.
“The message of Workers’ Memorial Day is very clear,” said Bridget (left), a partner with the firm. “On Sunday, workers and their representatives around the world will come together to commemorate their colleagues and demand further action to improve safety at work.”
Bridget said the international event is hugely important in helping to raise awareness of the still shocking number of workers who die each year as a result of an occupational illness or accident in the workplace, and demand that improvements are made to curb the number of injuries and loss of life.
“This is particularly relevant right now, with proposed legal changes under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill affecting how those injured in accidents at work will be able to pursue compensation,” said Bridget. “Campaigners have long voiced their concerns over the proposed changes, describing how they would stack the odds against injured workers in their fight for justice. In a time when we are seeing an increase in the number of people coming forward having either been diagnosed with a work-related disease or losing a loved one through occupational illness or accident, it is more important than ever to ensure we learn from our mistakes and remember the legacy of those who have lost their lives.”
The day is often described as a “rallying cry to ‘mourn for the dead and fight for the living’,” and is aimed at preventing others from losing their lives or their loved ones in incidents which could and should have been prevented.
“Every year, thousands of people in the UK die from an illness or injury caused directly by their work, simply because at some point their employer did not prioritise ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their workers,” said Bridget.
“As well as being contacted by more claimants this year, we have seen an increase in the number of calls from people who have only been exposed to asbestos relatively recently. Because any asbestos-related disease can take several years to manifest, they now face an uncertain future as they wait to see if they will go on to develop an illness as a result of their exposure.
“It is vital that lessons are learned from every single unnecessary and avoidable work-related death, to ensure that future generations do not keep repeating the same mistakes we have made for the last century,” she said.
“By supporting Workers’ Memorial Day, we hope to highlight the need for continued improvements to workplace safety, ensuring justice for those who have already lost their lives or their loved ones through no fault of their own, and protecting current and future workforce from suffering the same fates.”
Read more at: TUC
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