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Britain was in a celebratory mood on April 29th as communities celebrated the Royal Wedding by holding street parties.
But for many British people the day before the wedding was a time for more solemn reflection as they remembered work colleagues who had suffered fatal accidents at work.
Workers’ Memorial Day is held each year on April 29th and is observed in many countries – Britain is just one of them.
The day’s purpose is summed up neatly by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, who said: “It is a time to commemorate the dead and focus on protecting the living.”
Last year 152 people died at work in Britain and, according to the Labour Force Survey, 246,000 reportable injuries occurred.
No win no fee solicitors Claims Direct can help people claim the compensation they deserve and are entitled to if they suffer an accident at work through no fault of their own. Reporting an accident can sometimes help prevent a fellow worker from suffering an even more serious injury.
This year’s Memorial Day was observed in Waltham Forest where dozens of people gathered at an event held outside the town hall to remember the lives of two workers killed in the borough the previous year.
Crowds at the ceremony laid flowers in memory of Raymond Holmes and Andrezej Rokita.
Mr Holmes, 60, died when he was struck by a vehicle while working at Coppermill Water Treatment Works in Walthamstow. A few weeks earlier, Mr Kokita, 55, died after being crushed by falling materials at a building site in Leyton.
Both cases are being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.
In Hartlepool, a lone Scottish piper ‘piped’ around 200 guests into Christ Church for a ceremony which has been held in the town since 1999.
One of the guests was Linda Whelan, whose son Craig, 23, died while working on the demolition of a 180-feet high chimney in Bolton nine years ago.
Ms Whelan, a founder member of FACK (Families Against Corporate Killers), told Peterlee Mail: “Craig would be very proud of what we are doing. It is good that something positive has come out of something that should never have happened and could have been prevented.”
Other Workers’ Memorial Day ceremonies were held at one of the dozens of permanent memorials to lost workers which can be found around the UK.
Some - such as the Piper Alpha Memorial in the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden in Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen – relate to specific disasters where many workers lost their lives.
Other memorials are devoted to the memory of an individual worker or groups of workers affected by the same work-related fatal diseases. This is the case with the Franny Kelly Memorial at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station and the Salford Quays Asbestos Victims Memorial in Lancashire.
Union officials and grieving relatives and colleagues attending the April 28th ceremonies know that there are thousands more accidents for which there is no public memorial. A compelling reason why health and safety is still so important in the British workplace.
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