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.

Author: Doug Nix

Doug Nix is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Compliance InSight Consulting, Inc. ( in Kitchener, Ontario, and is Lead Author and Senior Editor of the Machinery Safety 101 blog. Doug's work includes teaching machinery risk assessment techniques privately and through Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, as well as providing technical services and training programs to clients related to risk assessment, industrial machinery safety, safety-related control system integration and reliability, laser safety and regulatory conformity. For more see Doug's LinkedIn profile.