Labor Day, 2020: Statement by John Howard, M.D., Director, NIOSH
September 4, 2020
Labor Day was created to honor workers for their contributions and achievements at a time in history when workers faced long working hours and dangerous working conditions. The need to recognize our nation’s workers for their contributions and resilience could not be more relevant today.
Millions of workers provide “essential services”—services that are vital to the health and welfare or critical infrastructure of our nation. These workers carry on through disasters or public health emergencies reporting to their worksite, seeing patients, responding to emergencies, delivering needed supplies, or harvesting crops—often working long hours.
Workers nationwide are experiencing new challenges in the ways they work and connect with others such as transitioning to full-time telework, balancing caregiving responsibilities, increasing work demands, or job insecurity. The new reality of work may adversely affect worker well-being, increasing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Mental health is an important part of worker safety and health. A recent MMWR article highlights the significant mental health challenges related to COVID-19. NIOSH’s Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Program, which focuses on supporting workers’ well-being through healthy work design, has recently published a series of blogs with information and resources relevant for these unprecedented times. Topics include the role of organizational support, stress among your workers, economic security, and improving sleep during tough times.
Additional information and resources about coping with job stress and building resilience, including knowing signs of stress, taking steps to manage stress, and knowing where to go if you need help are available from CDC for both workers taking care of others and non-healthcare workers.
The well-being of workers is paramount as we find our way through the new normal we’re facing. It can be easy to lose sight of the important contributions of workers in keeping the world around us running smoothly. We hope you join us this Labor Day in taking a moment to recognize and thank workers for their hard work, dedication, and perseverance in the face of adversity.