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IWMD 2021 Liverpool Event Report

CWU Area Health, Safety & Environment Repres​entative and a member of the IWMD Merseyside Organising Committee, Jamie McGovern gives his personal report of today's event at the Titanic (Engineers) Memorial in Liverpool:

Merseyside IWMD 2021 was an invite only event due to Covid restrictions, although slightly short on our normal numbers the people who needed to be there were there.

All attended to pay respectful remembrance to all those who have lost their lives because of work or through work related failures in responsibility.

This year the Mulhearn Family (Tony, Lisa, Vicki, Angie, Joe, Jack & Lynn) unveiled a plaque remembering the words spoken by their late Father Tony at IWMD 2019


In 2019 when speaking at our last IWMD event, Tony Mulhern recalled his early employed days when working at a print works and being exposed to unmeasured levels of carcinogens, he also spoke about living with the consequence of drastic ill health due to irresponsible exposure to dangerous work substances. In 2019 Tony urged those in attendance to keep fighting for ‘safe work’ and continue to keep 28th April as your day to remember the victims from the world of work.

  That message still goes on, we must keep the 28th April as our day to remember

Today for IWMD 2021 Joe Mulhearn spoke powerfully and candidly about his Dad living with work related industrial disease and the many challenges the trade unions currently face and how important it is that days like IWMD are remembered in our annual working calendar. He spoke on behalf of his family to say how honoured and thankful they are to finally see the plaque and to know it will soon be in its permanent place.

Tony Rimmer a retired CWU member was representing the Merseyside Pensioners Association, Unite Communities Branch 567 and the Liverpool 47. Tony started by recalling a tragic event and loss of life from back in 1970 when a young colleague had a fatal fall through a furnace house roof when trying to clear a telephone lone fault. It was a terribly painful early lesson in industrial safety.

Tony also spoke as a former councillor colleague of Tony Mulhearn also spoke of a true friend and inspiration, who he describes as having an innate ability to always ‘find the right words’! He said once the plaque is in place, he will refer to the Mersey Tunnel ventilation tower as the Tony Mulhearn tower!

He finished with a quote from Dolores Ibarruri- ‘You are the history, you are the legend, you are the heroic example of Solidarity and democracy- We will not forget you.

As Tony mentioned in his speech, the final location of the new plaque will be next to the Mersey Tunnel Workers Memorial where 17 men died during the construction of the tunnel. This memorial was erected as part of the Queensway Tunnel Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in remembrance of those who died during its construction. The new plaque will be passed by many commuters and visitors to our city.

Looking back-The 2019 theme of IWMD was indeed ‘dangerous substances’ and we must still challenge the fact and stark reality that some employers treat Workplace Exposure Limits (WEL’s) as a measure they can ‘just fall short of’ for it to be acceptable. No workers should be exposed to unnecessary risk and even one case of unsafe work is one too many.

There is a perception that occupational lung disease is an historic problem that has gone away. But there are an estimated 20,000 new cases of self-reported breathing or lung problems linked to workplaces every year. We need to still act to raise awareness of the worldwide risks to health from breathing hazardous chemicals, dust and fumes in our places of work.

John Flanagan for Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support group spoke about the Chittagong shipbreaker workers and the appalling risks they face. Dozens of workers in the Bangladesh yards have died in recent years but more still will suffer early deaths from their exposure to materials like asbestos. Yet it remains the world’s leading destination for ships to go for demolition, and around one in ten of the vessels which arrive there were previously owned by European companies.

The Mulhearn Family next to the new plaque honouring their Father

John Flanagan (MAVSG) presenting Jack Mulhearn with a copy of
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists book

#IWMD21 is especially poignant this year as it comes amid a devastating surge in global Covid-19 infections. Last week over 5.8 million new cases of Covid-19 were registered globally, the highest number to date. Many of these infections will have been caught at, or on the commute to or from, people’s workplaces or in people’s workplaces.

History of IWMD

In 1989, the AFL-CIO declared April 28 “Workers' Memorial Day” to honour the hundreds of thousands of working people killed and injured on the job every year.

April 28th is the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 went into effect, and when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed (April 28, 1971).

Previously, in 1984, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) established a day of mourning.

The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28, which is the anniversary of a comprehensive Workers' Compensation Act (refer to the entry Workplace Safety & Insurance Board), passed in 1914.

In 1991, the Canadian parliament passed an Act respecting a National Day of Mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace, making April 28 an official Workers’ Mourning Day.

Up to 50,000 people die each year in the UK from work-related ill health and accidents




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