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The History of  World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Why is the observation of World Day for Safety and Health at Work important? It is a day rich in history that will be important for the rest of time because it is all about keeping employees safe and employees are every companies most valuable asset. As it is so important but often overlooked, we would like to share a little more about the value of this special day.


Although World Safety wasn’t observed officially until 2003, the workplace safety and health movement began nearly 250 years ago with the rise of the Industrial Revolution. Poor working conditions drove employees to form labor unions and demand safe and healthy conditions.  In 1784, poor working conditions caused a fever outbreak among cotton mill workers in the United Kingdom, which led to one of the first acts of legislation to improve workplace safety – the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act. Following this, manufacturing facilities were on the rise with poor ventilation and dangerous equipment, railroads were expanding, the mining industry was booming, and agricultural workers dealt with increasing numbers of infectious diseases. Progress brought new challenges and humanity was in danger of being succeeded by technology.

Near the end of WWI, some major progress in workplace safety was finally made. As part of the Treaty of Versailles, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was created. The purpose of the ILO is described as the protection of humanitarian, political, and economic considerations. In the beginning, it was comprised of representatives from nine countries: Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States but has now grown to 187 member states.

In 2003, the ILO organized the official observance of World Day for Safety and Health at Work to promote healthy working conditions and stress the prevention of workplace accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employers reported 2.7 million injury and illness cases in 2020, down 5.7% from 2019. This is why we observe World Day for Safety and Health at Work – to improve working conditions and increase safety measures.


The more aware companies are of the hazards in their workplace, the more adept they become at addressing the challenges. Incidentally, April 28 is also International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, which further reminds us of the importance of workplace safety. Employees are the most important asset of any company. It is our responsibility as employers to ensure their well-being in the workplace. The investment made in safety training, providing healthy conditions, and active safety alerts is inconsequential compared to the risk of not investing in workplace safety.

World Safety Day also reminds us to see safety from new perspectives, share ideas, and study trends in workplace safety. Traditionally, most companies have issued top-down safety policies with no input from the employees. Often these policies are hard to understand and sometimes irrelevant to the actual conditions of the facility. Safety is about every employee in your building.  Therefore, everyone should be encouraged to contribute their ideas or concerns about workplace safety.


The best way to observe World Day for Safe and Health at work is to look around your own facility and ask the tough questions about workplace safety that may not have been considered yet.

  • Does your facility involve all employees in the safety process?
  • Do you have a process for your employees to provide suggestions and feedback?
  • OSHA requires several safety measures but can you take it one step further in your workplace?
  • Are your safety measures active or passive?

This is an opportunity to take safety in your workplace to the next level, for example, when it comes to forklift safety, no one knows the warehouse hazards of forklifts better than forklift operators.  Also known as PITs, forklifts were the cause of nearly 90,000 accident-related injuries last year and 70% of them were preventable with increased safety measures. Forklift drivers can provide valuable input into the types of equipment that might prevent workplace accidents. Our products take forklift safety from passive to active, which most forklift drivers find to be invaluable.

No matter the safety or health measures you are taking, make sure they are enough. Your employees are your most precious asset, so you should keep them healthy and safe at all costs!


If you have any questions about our products or are looking for forklift safety solutions, please call us at (513) 791-4790, email us, or check out our website to learn more:


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