For many, the workplace is almost like a second home. It is a safe place where we strive to succeed in our jobs and are surrounded by friends and close colleagues. Unfortunately, far too many British Columbians tragically lose their lives every year in their own workplace.
On April 28, the province will have the chance to come together and remember the 142 workers in B.C. who lost their lives as a result of workplace injury or illness in 2011.
The Day of Mourning was first recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 and later became nationally proclaimed in 1991.
The forestry, construction and transportation industries lead the numbers when it comes to fatal claims to WorkSafeBC, but even the hotel, retail and business services industries see fatal incidents in their offices. This means we need to do better when working with employers, employees and safety organizations. Training and incident prevention needs to be stressed, so that 21st century workers in British Columbia do not risk serious harm when they enter the job market.
The Day of Mourning is also a time to recognize those who were injured or suffered illness from work-related incidents. Aside from fatalities, 2011 saw more than 100,000 claims relating to health care, short-term and long-term disabilities. This accounts for almost three million lost days in the work force in just one year.
Just as in the past, we will be commemorating the lives of our loved ones and co-workers in Vancouver along with the BC Federation of Labour, the Business Council of British Columbia and WorkSafeBC. This year, the ceremony will take place at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, where the Line of Work dedication to B.C. workers is located.
Available to view live on WorkSafeBC.com, the Olympic flame will be re-ignited so we can keep the flame burning in our hearts for those who have lost their lives in the workplace.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.