In 2011, 919 workers in Canada lost their lives to a disease or injury they incurred from work-related causes. Even more disturbing, is that eight of those who died were teenagers; twenty-six were between the ages of twenty and twenty-four years.
There are close to three work-related deaths each day in Canada - each one leaving a trail of pain for the families impacted by the loss of a husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter. And most - if not all - are fatalities that could have been prevented.
To honour those workers across the country whose lives have been lost, who have been injured or disabled on the job, or suffer from occupational diseases, April 28th has been set aside as the National Day of Mourning. The Day of Mourning is an opportunity not only to remember, but also for employees and employers to publicly renew their commitment to preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths and making workplaces safe and healthy for all.
This day of observance was established when the Workers Mourning Day Act was passed in December 1990. Since that time, various events are organized each year by labour organizations across the country to express remembrance for the family, friends, and colleagues who have suffered in carrying out workplace duties. The Canadian flag on Parliament Hill will fly at half-mast. Workers will light candles, don ribbons and black armbands, and observe moments of silence.
Over the years, the day of observance known in most other countries as the Workers' Memorial Day, has spread to over 75 countries and is now an international day of remembrance of workers killed in incidents at work, or by diseases caused by work. In addition, the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrates the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28th to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.
Up close and personal
Statistics can be impersonal and cold. But the stories of real life people who have suffered the loss of a limb or a loved one from a work-related injury bring the statistics to life and put faces to the numbers. To this end, CCOHS has recorded podcasts with two victims of workplace tragedies who share their personal journeys.
Bill Bowman lost his arm as a young worker. Now, decades later he shares his story of loss and how he and his family were impacted by this life altering injury.
Listen to this nine-minute podcast: Workplace Injuries: A Personal Story.
Shirley Hickman's life changed forever when her son Tim was killed on the job just shy of his twenty-first birthday. Shirley shares her painful journey and what inspired her to create the Threads of Life organization, which supports workers and their families who are affected by life-altering workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Listen to this nine-minute podcast: Shirley Hickman - A Mother's Story.
The CCOHS website has more information about the National Day of Mourning.
For further statistical information, visit AWCBC National Work Injuries Statistics Program.
Update your Facebook page with the free Day of Mourning cover images.