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Kelowna, B.C., April 28, 2010 — Today, workers and employers remember those who have lost their lives as a result of their job at Day of Mourning ceremonies across the province. Last year in British Columbia, 121 workers died and more than 94,000 were injured as a result of workplace injury, illness or disease.
“On the Day of Mourning, we pause to remember those whose lives were tragically cut short, or changed forever by injury at the workplace. No words can adequately capture the impact of this loss on families, co-workers and communities,” said Minister of Labour Murray Coell. “Safety is a priority for the Ministry of Labour. I encourage all British Columbians to examine what each of us can do to further improve safety in the workplace, and honour those who have been impacted by workplace tragedy.”
“We honour and remember those workers that didn’t make it home at the end of their work day as well as their families that have suffered the devastating loss of a loved one to a traumatic fatality or an occupational disease,” said Dave Anderson, WorkSafeBC President and CEO. “Today, we renew our ongoing commitment to workplace health and safety with the belief that any workplace injury is unacceptable and absolutely preventable.”
In addition to commemorative ceremonies throughout the province, more than 68,000 B.C. workers at over 600 workplaces will be wearing decals to recognize the Day of Mourning.
In Kelowna, a public commemorative ceremony jointly hosted by the North Okanagan Labour Council and WorkSafeBC will start at 12:00 noon at Ben Lee Park. In total, more than 10,000 decals have been distributed to worksites for remembrance ceremonies in the interior region of the province.
“We all need to take responsibility for creating a safe and healthy workforce to help ensure that the tragedy of a workplace fatality never happens,” said Debra Critchley, representative of the North Okanagan Labour Council and co-chair of its Day of Mourning committee.
In 2009, of the 121 work-related fatalities, 61 were traumatic injuries and 60 were from occupational disease, mainly from exposure to asbestos. The general construction sector experienced the most overall fatalities with 29 deaths, followed by 23 in transportation and its related services and 15 in mineral products. Six young workers aged between 15 and 24 were fatally injured in 2009.
A WorkSafeBC Family Peer Support program is available to connect trained volunteers who have lost a loved one in a workplace accident with other family members who are experiencing a similar loss. The province-wide program providing confidential support, reassurance, and education is one of many WorkSafeBC support systems in place to assist bereaved family members. For more information on this program as well as a list of commemorative ceremonies throughout the province go to www.worksafebc.com.
The national Day of Mourning held annually on April 28th was initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 and was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991. Canada was the first country to recognize the day formally and today, 26 years later, the Day of Mourning is observed throughout the world in about 80 countries. The Canadian flag on Parliament Hill will fly at half-mast in acknowledgement.
Those unable to attend an organized ceremony can pay tribute to a worker who has died through an online memorial at www.dayofmourning.bc.ca.
The North Okanagan Labour Council is the umbrella group for labour unions in the North and Central Okanagan. Representing almost 10,000 union members from 42 affiliate members, the North Okanagan Labour Council is affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress.
WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors that serves about two million workers and more than 200,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.
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