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Let’s keep our workers safe on the job

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Hundreds gathered at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick on April 22 to observe Workers’ Memorial Day, this year held on Earth Day.

Have you ever stopped to think about the workers that built the home you live in, the building you work in, or even the railroads or highways you travel on? When we think about all the effort that goes into these projects, we should also remember how important it is to keep our workers safe on the job.

One group that has made it their mission to protect our workers is the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, or AFL-CIO. In 1970, the AFL-CIO declared April 28 as Workers Memorial Day. This is a day for Americans to remember and honor the men and women who have either lost their lives, were injured, disabled or became ill due to work-related injuries.

April 28 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. This act serves to ensure that employers provide their employees with a safe working environment. The act also led to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Today, these two agencies continue to protect our workers, but sadly, workplace hazards are still a reality. When companies ignore safety measures and put workers at risk, it’s our duty to support our workers and call for improvements.

A good way to start is to be aware of safety in your own workplace. Learn the safety standards associated with your job and encourage your co-workers to practice these safety measures as a group. Finally, if you see something unsafe on the job, you can exercise your right to make an anonymous report to OSHA.

Our workers have supported us by helping to create homes, towns, and businesses- help support them in return by standing strong with our unions and groups like the AFL-CIO.

Middlesex County’s Commemoration of Workers Memorial Day will take place at 11:30 a.m. on April 26 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center work site next to the State Theatre on Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. I hope that you will join us, and our county workers, as we remember our fallen brothers and sisters and protect the living.

For more information on this event, call 732-745-7306.

Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He writes the occasional column for Newspaper Media Group.

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