More than 50 years ago on April 28, Workers Memorial Day, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect, promising every worker the right to a safe job—a fundamental right.

The law was won because of the tireless efforts of the labor movement, which organized for safer working conditions and demanded action from the government to protect working people. Since then, unions and allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections under the law that have made jobs safer and saved lives. But our work is not done.

Each day, more than 340 workers are killed and more than 6,000 suffer injury and illness because of dangerous working conditions that are preventable.

Workers are winning good jobs and safe jobs through union contracts across the country to secure a better livelihood and safer future for themselves and their families. A seat at the bargaining table can be a matter of life or death in the workplace, ensuring everyone can go home at the end of a work shift, alive and without work-related illnesses that plague many workers. Across the United States, workers are organizing for strong health and safety standards from employers and governments to improve working conditions.

Our workplace safety and health rights are not freely given. Working people have fought for them for decades and still do every day—from the shop floor to the halls of Congress. Anti-regulatory attacks have put our working conditions in danger—threats that would remove protections we take for granted. Congressional Republicans are attempting to defund the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), remove funding for mine safety law enforcement, and prevent future worker safety and health regulations from being developed.

Our job is not finished. We must protect the rights we have won and keep fighting for safer working conditions. Our nation’s job safety laws are too weak already, leaving many employers who violate the law unaccountable. OSHA penalties are still too low to be a deterrent. Employers retaliate against workers who speak out against unsafe working conditions. Black, Latino and immigrant workers are disproportionately killed on the job. Heat, workplace violence, infectious disease and chemical exposures are dangerous and uncontrolled hazards that need to be addressed. Workers still cannot freely join a union without retaliation from their employers.

Together on this Workers Memorial Day, we elevate safe jobs and raise our collective voice to protect what we have—confronting attacks on regulations that keep our workplaces safe and demanding action to win stronger protections. We hold employers accountable to keep workers safe. We demand more resources from Congress for our nation’s job safety agencies. We demand dignity at work. We will continue to fight for a seat at the bargaining table and in the halls of government to ensure good jobs are safe jobs. We will fight to protect our fundamental right to a safe job until that promise is fulfilled.

Plan and Share your Workers Memorial Day Event

The AFL-CIO Safety and Health has posted materials for Workers Memorial Day online at
On the website, you can you can find Workers Memorial Day events happening near you or submit your event to the calendar. There are also materials available for download including stickers, flyers, and more.

Be sure to post your photos and videos from WMD and use the hastags #1USafety, #WORKERSMEMORIALDAY, OR #IWMD2024.