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Workers Memorial Day--Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living

05-02-2013

In recognition of Workers Memorial Day 2013, Worthington & Caron would like to acknowledge all of the working men and women who have been hurt, taken ill or have died in pursuit of their piece of the “American Dream”. This, of course, includes hundreds of thousands of workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established on April 28, 1971 with the mission of assuring safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. The anniversary of this day has been designated Worker’s Memorial Day, a day to honor all men and women who have been injured or have lost their lives due to a workplace accident or exposure.

According to the World Health Organization approximately 125 million people in the world were exposed to asbestos at the workplace, and more than 107,000 people die each year from asbestos-related disease. One in every three deaths from occupational cancer is estimated to be caused by asbestos.

Even though OSHA established regulations regarding the handling of asbestos in the early 1970s, many manufacturers continued using asbestos in their products for many years--in some cases decades later. The OSHA regulations proved to be of some effect in reducing exposures to existing asbestos that had been installed years earlier and could be marked and cordoned off at jobsites such as factories, refineries and power plants. However, the regulations proved to be less effective in limiting exposures to new products that were used by workers or by others in their presence at jobsites. As disease caused by asbestos typically doesn’t manifest until 20 to 50 or more years after exposure, it is anticipated that the incidence of asbestos disease will remain at its current rate for years to come.

Many believe that the conduct of asbestos companies from the 1930s through the 1980s is one of the worst examples of companies placing profits ahead of public safety in our nation’s history. Worker’s Memorial Day is a powerful reminder of the importance of worker health and the need to prevent this situation from ever occurring again.

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