April 28th marks Canada’s National Day of Mourning, a day that commemorates workers who have been killed or injured through workplace related incidents
We, as people, generally wake up and follow routine. We go about our day to day lives without ever considering the potential of suffering a serious illness or injury from our workplace. We never think of bidding farewell to a loved one before heading off to work, with this acknowledgment having the potential of being our last. While it is true that none of us are exempt from fate or freak accident, it’s up to us to prepare for the worst and ensure safety for ourselves and those around us.
Workers Mourning Day
Canada was the first nation to recognize the Day of Mourning, with the Canadian Labour Congress first recognizing it in 1984, and becoming a national observance with the passing of the Workers Mourning Day Act in 1991.
Typically, the Canadian flag is flown at half-mast on Parliament Hill. Closer to home, the provincial observance takes place at the Confederation Building in St. John’s. Workers and employees observe the day in various ways including wearing ribbons, lighting candles, and observing moments of silence.
“It is important for all of us, as a community and as representatives from workplaces, to come together to reflect and honour the memory of workers who have died at work,” shared Dennis Hogan, CEO of WorkplaceNL. “These workers were our friends, co-workers, parents, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers, and neighbours. When they died, it left an indelible loss on all of us. The Day of Mourning is an opportunity for us to support each other as we deal with this loss. But it is also an opportunity for all of us to renew our commitment to creating safe and healthy workplaces.”
In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are far more fatalities due to illness related to work than from on-the-job injuries. Last year in our province, 25 workers died from a workplace injury or disease, 20 fatalities were due to occupational disease and five were the result of a traumatic incident. The workplace fatality rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is 11.2 deaths per 100,000 workers as of 2017, a decline of 5.1 per cent in the past decade.
There are numerous health hazards in today’s workplaces that pose risk to workers. Wood dust, fumes, chemicals, gases and particulates.
Physical agents such as noise, thermal stress, vibration radiation, viruses, respiratory diseases, and other work-related illnesses. In 2017, occupational health exposures at the fluorspar mine in St.