Marking Workers’ Memorial Day 2023, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called for the Health and Safety Authority to be better resourced to enhance the safety of nurses, midwives and all other healthcare workers.
Speaking at the national commemorative event for Workers’ Memorial Day, INMO President Karen McGowan stated:
“Workers' Memorial Day in Ireland is an important opportunity to honour and remember workers who have lost their lives or suffered injuries while on the job, and to advocate for safer workplaces and better protection of workers' rights.
“I am a healthcare worker, I’m an Advanced Nurse Practioner in a hospital not far from where we stand today. Every day, we care for patients and provide vital services to our communities. But in doing so, we also face various hazards and challenges that can put our health and safety at risk. From exposure to infectious diseases to physical injuries, we understand the importance of workplace safety in our profession.
“As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, I believe it is important to look back. 23 healthcare workers tragically lost their lives because of COVID-19. We think of them and their families today. Thousands of healthcare workers contracted what was an unknown virus in the line of their work. Hundreds of my healthcare colleagues are still paying the price as they continue to deal with the symptoms of Long-COVID.
“We put ourselves in a situation where we did not know the outcome in order to put our patients first. As we reflect on workplace injuries today, many of my colleagues and I will ask ourselves, knowing what we know now would we do it again? Can we say that our safety in the workplace has improved?
“The Health and Safety Authority must act on the unsafe conditions our healthcare workers are working in and patients are presenting to. The HSA has done phenomenal work in transforming workplace safety in the construction and agriculture industries – if given the resources it must do the same in healthcare.
“Let us remember our colleagues who were taken from us too soon and reaffirm our commitment to workplace safety. We all share a common goal here today - creating safer workplaces for all workers. The sacrifice of those whose lives were lost or careers cut short because of injury or assault at work should serve as a reminder to us all to remain vigilant and proactive in advocating for the protection of workers' rights and well-being.”