Marked annually in Canada on April 28, the National Day of Mourning is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, suffered injury or illness on the job, or experienced a work-related tragedy. Canada was the first nation to recognize the Day of Mourning and since 1984, acknowledgement of the day has spread to many countries and is now observed throughout the world.
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada. 882 were male workers, and 43 were female workers. Among these deaths were 29 young workers aged 15-24.
Add to these fatalities the 271,806 accepted claims (an increase from 264,438 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 33,615 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.
In 2021 BC Workplace injuries and illnesses claimed the lives of 161 B.C. workers last year, with more than half (99) of the work-related deaths the result of occupational disease — 53 were the result of exposure to asbestos, with many exposures happening decades earlier. Alberta lost 178 people to workplace injury or illness in 2021.
And it’s not just these numbers on which we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy, there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed.
Whether employees are currently working remotely or onsite, we encourage organizations, communities, and individuals to hold or support an event, attend either live or virtual, or simply observe a moment of silence at 11:00 am on April 28.
Employers, unions, and individuals can also show their support and commitment to a safe workplace by promoting the social media cards and messages provided by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety By sharing these messages, you are reminding more people to put health and safety at the forefront of their work and helping to prevent further work-related injuries and loss of life.
Let’s work together to make our sets and work sites as safe as possible. Although, as individuals, we cannot control all workplace risk factors, we can take responsibility for ourselves and our actions, and watch out for those around us:
Watch your level of fatigue – speak up if you’re exhausted and at risk of mishandling a piece of equipment or a vehicle
Monitor your mental health and mental strain. If you cannot focus at work, and are feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help or ask for a break. Then access help and support through resource listed on this website
If you see a dangerous situation evolving on set or at your work site, speak up. Don’t assume others have seen the hazard or are taking the necessary steps to avoid danger
Advocate and campaign for safer workplace practices through your MLA, MP, union and employer
Lets show solidarity this April 28th, make sure that workplace safety is an ongoing priority, and do our part to make our work environments safe.
Check out these resources: