There were 173 work-related deaths in the province last year, said several people who spoke during the National Day of Mourning ceremony in Williams Lake Tuesday.
“That’s the highest number since 2010,” said Dean Colville, first vice-president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-425. “On average that’s more than three work related deaths a week.”
Of those 173 deaths, 98 were related to previous exposure to asbestos.
Cariboo Regional District director Steve Forseth broke the statistics down saying four people who die were between 15 and 24 years of age.
“That is four too many,” Forseth said, noting 39 people died in construction accidents, 19 from mining incidents and 14 in the wood and paper industry.
“We even had two deaths in the Cariboo,” Forseth added.
Randy Chadney arrived in Williams Lake last month to take on the role of manager at Tolko’s Lakeview mill.
“When you witness a fatality at work it’s life changing,” Chadney said. “The people I’ve seen die I still think about ten years later.”
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett recalled losing a volunteer fire chief in 100 Mile House in 1999.
“We all suffered and learned from that tragedy,” Barnett said. “No words can adequately capture the loss of family and friends when people die in accidents at work.”
The National Day of Mourning is about recognizing those who are gone and making workplaces safer.
NDP leader John Horgan echoed Barnett saying everyone has the right to come home safely at the end of the day.
“Today we remember and reflect and want to make sure the number of people dying at work isn’t as high next year,” Horgan added.