Workers and trade unions will promote good health and safety for all this week, at a series of events organised to mark an annual memorial day for people killed at work. 

International Workers’ Memorial Day, which takes place every year on 28 April, not only aims to remember those who have died at work or through occupational diseases, but also reinforces the need to “fight for the living”. 

In 2015/16, an estimated 621,000 people were injured at work in the UK, and 144 people were killed as a result of a workplace accident, according to the Health and Safety Executive. 

This year, workers sporting purple ‘forget me knot’ ribbons – a symbol of the day – will hold vigils, meetings and other events across the UK, to remember workplace accident victims and reinforce the importance of ensuring ‘good health and safety for all, whoever they are’. Activities organised on the day will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap. 

Events planned for the day range from tree planting and commemorative services through to art displays highlighting workplace hazards and gatherings addressed by famous guest speakers. 

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is particularly keen to use the day, which is recognised by the UK government, to focus on the impact of hidden and new ‘gig’ economies on workers’ rights. 

New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found around 1.3 million adults aged 18-70 are working in the ‘gig’ economy and a TUC report released in December 2016, ‘Living on the edge’, found many people in precarious work in the UK were at risk of missing out on key employment protection. The report showed sick pay, redundancy protection and protection from unfair sacking were among the rights at risk, with zero-hours workers earning a third less than average employees. 

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors, welcomed the opportunity to reinforce the importance of health, safety and equal rights for all workers in the UK. 

“Thompsons is dedicated to improving health and safety practice in the workplace and played a central role in establishing the Health and Safety Act 1974. We are proud to join once more with trade unions, and those committed to ensuring fair and equal access to good health and safety at work, to remember those who have lost their lives at work. 

“Through our work with victims of occupational accidents, and their families, we have witnessed first-hand the catastrophic impact that employers who play fast and loose with health and safety can have on lives. Far too often these accidents could have been easily avoided by simple, cost-effective changes to working practices, or thought from employers. 

“Cutting corners, and seeking to get around existing laws is nearly always at the bottom of tragedies as well as injuries every day. We will, as always, continue to fight to protect the rights of all workers and for improvements to health and safety regulations.” 

In support of International Workers’ Memorial Day, Thompsons will be launching a photography competition tomorrow, to draw attention to the importance of health and safety and why the legislation in place to uphold it should never be considered a burden or ’red tape’. Keep up to date with competition news by following @ThompsonsLaw and @ThompsonsInjury on Twitter.