The 28th of April is International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Two years ago in 2018, Calderdale Council and UNISON joined forces to install a permanent memorial outside the new Central Library and Archives in Halifax as a way to remember all the local people who have been injured, harmed or killed in workplaces over the years.
The stone, fashioned locally by Marshalls, has an inscription which reads: ‘Dedicated to the workers of Calderdale who have suffered illness, injury or death as a consequence of their work. Remember the dead, fight for the living’.
Every year, the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year it has a special significance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands of workers across the UK are currently caring for those suffering from COVID-19 or are delivering other essential public services – potentially putting their own safety and even their lives at risk.
Whilst the sacrifice of those working in the health and social care sectors is widely, and quite rightly, recognised, there are many others – those working in childcare, police, fire services and refuse collection, in hostels and rescue centres, in gas, water and electricity, and in transport services – whose dedication is not always as readily acknowledged.
The memorial stone gives local communities the chance to remember loved ones, friends and colleagues who have sadly suffered harm, injury or death at work; but, crucially, it also highlights the importance of ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated.
So, whilst current restrictions unfortunately mean that it won’t be possible for people to gather round the memorial at the Central Library, it is still a poignant reminder of the potential dangers of the workplace and, most importantly, of the need to make sure we continue to understand and control these risks as a key management priority.