Today’s National Day of Mourning takes on new relevance in the wake of COVID-19. As the pandemic heightens the risk for essential workers on the front lines, the building industry remembers those who have been killed on the job, or who have dies as a result of work-related injury or disease.
“May their memories inspire us to improve health and safety, so that no workers perish and that no family has to endure the pain of losing a loved one at work,” said Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.“April 28th is a nationally-recognized day to mourn the victims of workplace tragedies, which are all completely preventable.”
Ontario’s construction industry accounts for seven per cent of the province’s economy, yet close to one third of all workers killed at work, are construction workers.
“Sadly, workers continue to be intimidated when they should give voice to their concerns on safety, and that needs to change now.” says Dillion. “The building trades will continue to advocate for real prevention so that workers are empowered and encouraged to speak out when they identify a legitimate risk in the workplace, without facing repercussions.”
To improve workplace safety, Dillion says mandatory training is necessary alongside the establishment of proactive Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs), employers encouraging workers to raise legitimate health and safety concerns, and the implementation of tougher enforcement measures.
“It’s regrettable that it takes an injury, death or a pandemic to have society understand the value of worker safety,” he observes.
The National Day of Mourning was established in 1984 to commemorate workers and their families affected by workplace accidents.