Wednesday, April 28, 2010 is the National Day of Mourning. Each year this day has been set aside to honour those workers across Canada whose lives have been lost, injured, disabled or who suffer from occupational diseases because of hazards or incidents in the workplace.
The National day of Mourning, also known as the Workers’ Memorial day, was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 and was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991. The Day of Mourning has since spread to about 80 countries around the world.
The number of deaths in the Canadian workplace each year is astonishing! Between 1993 and 2007, 13,106 workers lost their lives because of work-related accidents. In 2007, there were 1,055 workplace deaths’ in addition to another 972,407 Canadian workers who were injured or become ill. This represents nearly 3 deaths every single day.
Work-related accidents are very expensive. The total of compensation paid to work accident victims, or their families, and of other economic costs of work-related injuries, each year are estimated at more than $12 billion. This figure does not take into account the pain and suffering of the victims and their families, which are incalculable.
The purpose of Day of Mourning is twofold- to remember and honour those lives lost or injured and to renew the commitment to improving health and safety in the workplace – to prevent further deaths, injuries and diseases from work. Typically the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill is flown at half-mast, and workers and employees observe this day in various ways including lighting candles, donning ribbons and black armbands, and observing moments of silence.
The National Day of Mourning is as much a day to remember the dead as it is a call to protect the living. Every employer should recognize this day. For ideas on how to bring attention to this day in your workplace visit www.ccohs.ca/events/mourning.