National Day of Mourning

Today is the 28th of April, the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed at Work.

Each year in Canada work­ers, employ­ers and cit­izens gath­er to pay their respects to people killed at work. This is as import­ant a day in my mind as November 11. Why?

  • I believe that every­one who wants to con­trib­ute to soci­ety should be able to work and be paid a fair wage for their efforts.
  • I believe that every­one who goes to work is entitled to a safe work­place.
  • I believe that every­one who goes to work is entitled to go home to their lives, their loved ones, their hopes and dreams every day.
  • I believe that a safe work­place is a pro­duct­ive work­place.
  • I believe that engin­eers, tech­no­lo­gists, tech­ni­cians, trades­per­sons and oth­ers that design, build, main­tain and modi­fy machinery have an eth­ic­al and mor­al oblig­a­tion to ensure the ongo­ing safety of those that use the products that res­ult from their work.

Every year in Canada hun­dreds of people die at work. As you can see, des­pite increas­ing efforts to reg­u­late safety in the work­place, the annu­al toll as shown by the red trend line con­tin­ues to rise.

Total Canadian Workplace Fatalities 1993-2010
Total Canadian Workplace Fatalities 1993 – 2010

These fig­ures come from the National Work Injury Statistics Program (NWISP), and the source chart can be found here.

What can we do to reverse this trend? I think we need to “be the change we want to see in the world’, mak­ing cer­tain that we take the time to under­stand the reg­u­la­tions and stand­ards that apply to our designs, that we imple­ment the best tech­no­lo­gic­al solu­tions in those designs, and that we ensure that we do not endanger oth­ers by ren­der­ing those safety sys­tems inef­fect­ive.

Today, take a moment to pause at 11:00 and be silent. Light a candle or hold a vigil. You won’t be alone. Then, work for change.

These are just some of the reas­ons why this day is so import­ant to me. What about you? Do you know someone whose life ended at work? Do you know a fam­ily that has been affected by a work­place injury or fatal­ity? Please share your thoughts and stor­ies in the com­ments!

Want to know more about the Canadian National Day of Mourning? See this page and this page.