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Workers Memorial Day commemorated in state

Highlights importance of workplace safety

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:44 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO — On behalf of the administration of Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Department of Labor marked Workers Memorial Day on Sunday, April 28.

The day honors workers who were killed, injured or disabled while on the job by reminding working communities and businesses of the importance of workplace safety.

The Department joined workers and families at various events marking the day across the state. April 28 also marks the day the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1971.

“On Workers Memorial Day, we honor and remember the thousands of workers who have lost their lives or have been hurt while working to secure a future for themselves and their families,” said Director Joseph Costigan.

“This day gives us the opportunity to recognize the contributions of all workers and to underscore the importance of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.”

In Illinois, 177 fatal occupational injuries were reported in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the highest percentage of injury-based fatalities occurring in transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, construction and manufacturing industries.

IDOL found that a significant number of fatalities in 2012 were due to “back-over” accidents, which involve workers who drive vehicles carrying large pieces of equipment that block their view, causing them to “back-over” or hit a worker or workers.

Under the leadership of Gov. Quinn, the Department partnered with OSHA in 2009 as a State Plan to expand protections for public-sector workers through enforcement of OSHA standards and to provide safety consultation services to smaller businesses. In 2012, the Department’s Safety Inspection & Education Division (SIED) investigated 23 fatalities and 105 complaints regarding unsafe working conditions.

SIED also inspected 1,089 public worksites to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for public employees and as a result, protected more than 71,000 Illinois employees, directly or indirectly, from potentially hazardous conditions.

Through 547 consultation visits at smaller businesses, SIED inspectors identified 2,130 hazards, a majority of which would have caused serious injury, illness or death if left unabated.

As a result, more than 114,000 public sector employees were protected from risk of injury.  More information on the Illinois State Plan can be found at http://labor.illinois.gov.

The Department has also recognized several, small Illinois businesses with Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) Awards for maintaining exemplary workplace safety and health programs.

Currently, 26 Illinois Employers have received/maintained SHARP status.

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