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Statement on Labor Day 2012 by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH


August 30, 2012
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

If you have a one-year-old in daycare, you rely on the provider to keep your child safe and comfortable while you are at work. If you commute by public transportation, you depend on the bus driver to get you to your job on time and back home again at the end of the day.

In turn, if you are an IT security specialist for a major bank, millions of other people trust you to keep their accounts safe from cyber thieves. If you drive a delivery truck for a grocery chain, the stores on your route expect you to arrive safely, on schedule, so that shelves can be stocked for that day’s shoppers. In our complex society, every individual benefits in some way from the work performed by multitudes of other people.

This Labor Day, we celebrate the pride and dedication of our working men and women. Two hundred years ago, those qualities in the American work force propelled the growth of our young nation’s trans-Atlantic trade economy. In the last century, they were indispensable in the success of our manufacturing economy. In today’s global marketplace, American ingenuity and perseverance drive the growth of advanced information and production technologies.

“America’s scientific and technological prowess is respected around the globe,” a recent Pew Research Center survey reports. “Majorities or pluralities in 18 of 20 countries say they admire the U.S. for its scientific and technological advances. In 12 nations, 70 percent or more hold this view.”

We in the occupational safety and health community have a unique opportunity to honor the labor of our fellow Americans. We develop, disseminate, and help others to use the tools and strategies that prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. By helping to prevent pain, impairment, and death on the job, we help working parents to provide for their families and plan for a secure future. With a roster of healthy, capable workers, an innovative small business has a better chance of survival in a fiercely competitive global market. That same small business may be the next leader in a transformational technology that earns admiration and customers around the world, as the recent Pew survey suggests.

On Labor Day 2012, I invite you to join us in recognizing the essential contributions of American workers and renewing our national commitment to safe and healthful workplaces for all.