National Day of Mourning

The National Day of Mourning, held annually in Canada on April 28, is dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the job or due to a work-related tragedy.

Every year on April 28 we pay our respects to, and remember, the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.

We also honour the many families and friends who have been deeply affected by these tragedies.

Every worker has the right to return home safe and sound at the end of each work day.

By working together – with employers, workers and our health and safety partners – we can prevent worker injuries and deaths before they occur.


The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.

On April 28th the Canadian flag will fly at half-mast on Parliament Hill and on all federal government buildings. Employers and workers will observe Day of Mourning in a variety of ways. Some light candles, lay wreaths, wear commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and pause for a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.


In 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Parliament of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act making April 28 an official Day of Mourning. Today the Day of Mourning has since spread to about 100 countries around the world and is recognized as Workers’ Memorial Day, and as International Workers’ Memorial Day by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

It is the hope of CCOHS that the annual observance of this day will help strengthen the resolve to establish safe and healthy conditions in the workplace, and prevent further injuries and deaths. As much as this is a day to remember the dead, it is also a call to protect the living and make work a place to thrive.

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Day of Mourning


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National Day of Mourning


On Thursday April 28, we mark the National Day of Mourning as we stop to remember all those lost to workplace injury or illness.

In 2014, the last year statistics were released from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, 919 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada, up from 902 the previous year. This represents more than 2.5 deaths every single day.

Parents, sons and daughters, siblings, dear friends and colleagues, their numbers tell the story. In the 20 years from 1995 to 2014, 18,039 people lost their lives due to work-related causes (an average of 918 deaths per year).

It has been 25 years since Canada officially recognized the National Day of Mourning. Sadly, the need for this day is just as great now as it was a quarter century ago. As we look back to remember we also look forward as the work to prevent deaths, injuries and illness continues.

This year, Canadian unions are calling for a comprehensive national ban on asbestos. Asbestos is the number one cause of occupational death in Canada. Exposure to asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, with exposure claiming the lives of more than 2000 Canadians each year. Death from mesothelioma alone increased 60 per cent between 2000 and 2012.

Some progress has been made – as of April 1 construction materials that contain asbestos were banned by Public Services and Procurement Canada for use in government projects. But overall import of items that contain asbestos, such as brake pads and cement pipes, are on the rise.

We urgently need the federal government to completely outlaw the use, exportation and import of this known killer.

On April 28, pay tribute to our fallen workers by participating in local day of mourning commemorations. On April 28 remind your MP that safe work is a right, not a privilege, and call on all politicians to implement a comprehensive ban on asbestos so we can all breathe easier.

The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to renew the commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.

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Safety is a team sport

From snowboarders to mountain climbers and skydivers, people have long sought the thrill of height. Two things help people who seek the rush of extreme activities that scare the hell out of most of us do their thing safely:

  1. Training
  2. Trust in their Gear

Properly maintained and employed safety gear and training with experts are standard. Thrill seekers know the consequences of an accident can be devastating. So they mitigate it.

The consequences of workplace accidents can be equally devastating. Workplace attitudes towards avoiding accidents should be no different.

Too many in the workforce skip or rush through those steps in the name of efficiency, or even laziness.

As a result, falls are the number one cause of critical worker injuries at construction sites in Ontario.

14 workers lost their lives falling from heights in 2015, leaving behind parents, children, siblings, and friends.

The sad reality is that too many are willing to push safety boundaries at work. Whether they’re due to a lack of training or a disregard for safety equipment, these injuries and deaths are preventable – the key is driving the message home to all parties.

We are ALL responsible for workplace safety.

Employers and supervisors, for providing comprehensive training, equipment and rescue plans.
Employees, for following guidelines, wearing their equipment and both refusing and reporting unsafe situations.

It’s easy to become complacent after years on the job, but it only takes one mistake to change everything.

Now, ignoring safety isn’t just dangerous or unethical–it’s also illegal. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), violators can be prosecuted resulting in heavy fines or even jail time.

Please spread the word and encourage your fellow workers to stay safe.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Let us know how we can help, and please share any questions you may have about workplace protection.

When it comes to creating safe work environments, we’re all in this together.

The Kiss of Life by Rocco Morabito.

This 1967 award-winning photo entitled “Kiss of Life” shows two power linemen, Randall Champion and J. D. Thompson, at the top of a utility pole.

They had been performing routine maintenance when Champion brushed one of the high voltage lines at the very top. These are the lines that can be heard “singing” with electricity. Over 4000 volts entered Champion’s body and instantly stopped his heart (an electric chair uses about 2000 volts).

His safety harness prevented a fall, and Thompson, who had been ascending below him, quickly reached him and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He was unable to perform CPR given the circumstances but continued breathing into Champion’s lungs until he felt a slight pulse, then unbuckled his harness and descended with him on his shoulder.

Thompson and another worker administered CPR on the ground and had moderately revived Champion by the time paramedics arrived.

Champion survived and lived until 2002 when he died of heart failure at the age of 64. Thompson is still living. The photograph was published in newspapers around the world.

Our job at BTS can be extremely dangerous as we have to climb ladders and poles and deal with live electricity. Always consider the risks before proceeding.  Never sacrifice your safety for speed or complacency.

Use your training and skills in the use, handling, maintenance, inspection, and transportation of an extension ladder, including how to safely arrange, set, and adequately support a ladder in a range of soil conditions. Wear safety boots in good condition that meet the standards and have non-skid soles. Inspect the route that you’ll travel to bring the ladder near the pole: Is it flat and without obstacles, holes or differences in ground level? Always use your personal protection equipment, anti-fall device or a safety harness, etc.

Technicians are highly qualified, skilled people who are well aware of the risks inherent in their work.

Always use training, experience and personal protective equipment to mitigate risk!

We risk our lives, limbs and health in the workplace; taking shortcuts to increase profits for employers eventually catches up with both workers and employers.

What is your health and safety worth? Apparently less than $6!


In the past, your Workplace Health and Safety Committee has carried spare safety glasses to handout when they found missing, damaged or scratched safety glasses. Recently they were denied an order of 48 glasses. The glasses vary in cost depending on the style from $2 to $6 dollars.  Yes, that’s under $288 dollars for the high end style.

Why would a company like Bell Canada shortchange the safety of its employees? Ok, that could be a rhetorical question.

To anyone who thinks eye protection may not be a crucial component of PPE in the workplace, think again. Nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. Eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.

The majority of workplace eye injuries are caused by small particles or objects (such as metal slivers, wood chips or dust) striking or abrading the eye. Injured workers said that nearly three-fifths of the objects were smaller than a pinhead. Injuries can also occur when nails, staples or metal penetrate the eyeball, which can result in a permanent loss of vision. Blunt force traumas caused by objects striking the eyes or face or from a worker running into an object are another threat, as are chemical burns from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products.

The role of comfort in eye protection cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that comfort as well as style helps drive compliance with PPE-wearing protocols. PPE that allows workers to express their individuality also leads to greater compliance. Providing a range of options in terms of color and other style aspects gives workers some control over how they look. When people are content with their appearance in the PPE, it follows that they will be more likely to wear the PPE appropriately. And PPE that is perceived as “cool” is more likely to be worn.

Employees also must take care of protective eyewear to avoid scratches.  Scratched and dirty devices reduce vision, cause glare and may contribute to accidents. Glasses that are scratched or pitted should be discarded and replaced immediately.

An on-the-job eye injury can cause lasting and permanent vision damage, potentially disabling a worker for life. Even “minor” eye injuries can cause long-term vision problems and suffering, such as recurrent and painful corneal erosion from a simple scratch from sawdust, cement or drywall.

An estimated 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the use of proper protective eyewear!

With a statistic as compelling as this, it makes both common and economic sense to do everything possible to make sure workers have the right PPE to protect their eyes on the job.

Every employer should make it a safety priority for its workers to operate with clear vision in their workplace and surroundings.

Your Local and the 416 WHSC committee will be pursuing this issue.

If you have damaged or scratched safety glasses ask your manager to replace them.  When lenses are scratched, vision becomes impaired and eyes are strained. When glasses are damaged, they may lose their ability to protect as they were designed to, and they are a safety hazard.

In Solidarity

Sam Snyders