Workers killed or injured on the job will be honoured on April 28th at a Day of Mourning ceremony in Kamloops.
Last year, 158 workers in BC died as a result of an injury or work-related illness. On average, each year, one thousand workers die across Canada, hundreds of thousands more are injured, and countless thousands become permanently disabled.
“No one wakes up to go to work, expecting it to be their last,” says Kamloops and District Labour Council President, Barb Nederpel. “I love my job, but I’m not dying to go to work.”
The Day of Mourning is recognized internationally to honour those who have died but it is also is a call for ongoing improvements for safer workplaces. “The best way we can honour those who are no longer with us is to do everything we can to prevent it from happening to someone else.”
This year, the Canadian Labour Congress has launched a campaign, “Violence and Harassment: Not part of the job.”
“Whether it happens once or is part of a pattern, anyone can experience violence and harassment in the workplace,” says Nederpel.
And far too often, workers do not know they have the right to refuse unsafe work, and many others are afraid of coming forward due to possible retaliation, ridicule, or even job loss.”
Unions are calling on joint health and safety committee efforts to create policies and provide training to prevent workplace violence, while identifying and addressing workplace risks.
“Workers also need an safe environment report hazards and incidents of all levels,” says Nederpel, suggesting anti-reprisal measures, including whistleblower protection, would help employers address issues early.
Unions are also calling on employers to identify the impacts and risks of domestic violence in the workplace. Employers, recognizing that work cannot be safe when home isn’t, can conduct workplace risk assessments, offer training and safety planning, and ensure that supports are in place for workers experiencing domestic violence.
The Kamloops and District Labour Council will be hosting a ceremony with WorkSafe BC on April 28th, 6:00 pm at St. Andrews on the Square and invites everyone to attend. The event will include guest speakers injured worker, Mike Shaw, representatives from WorkSafe and Labour, Kamloops Thompson Cariboo MP, Cathy Mcleod, Kamloops North Thompson MLA, Peter Milobar, and City Councillor, Donovan Cavers.
Workers are also encouraged to observe a moment of silence and fly flags at half-mast at their worksites on April 28th.