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

+DougNix is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Compliance InSight Consulting, Inc. ( in Kitchener, Ontario, and is Lead Author and Managing 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.

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