5 Things You Need to Know About ANSI

Have you ever wondered about ANSI? Needed to know how ANSI stand­ards are developed? Find your answers and more in this post!

If you are design­ing products for the US mar­ket, you will undoubtedly have at least heard of the Amer­ic­an Nation­al Stand­ards Insti­tute (ANSI), if not used one or more of their stand­ards or ser­vices. Some of their stand­ards, like the ANSI/NEMA Z535 fam­ily of stand­ards cov­er­ing safety signs and labels and related top­ics, are also used in Canada and else­where around the world. But what do you know about ANSI? Read on to learn more about this import­ant organ­iz­a­tion! Con­tin­ue read­ing “5 Things You Need to Know About ANSI

The History behind April 28th, Canada’s National Day of Mourning

One of the original April 28th National Day of Mourning posters showing a canary singing in a cage, reminding us of the canaries used in the past in coal mines to detect hazardous gases.
Nation­al Day of Mourn­ing Poster

This post was writ­ten by Dorothy Wig­more, Occu­pa­tion­al health and green chem­istry spe­cial­ist, from Win­nipeg, Man­itoba, and a mem­ber of the Amer­ic­an Pub­lic Health Asso­ci­ation (APHA)The art­icle was ori­gin­ally pub­lished in the Spring 2010 Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safety Sec­tion News­let­ter [1], and sub­sequently pos­ted on the APHA web­site.

This art­icle was pre­vi­ously incor­rectly attrib­uted. Our sin­cere apo­lo­gies to Ms. Wig­more for this error. Our deep appre­ci­ation goes to her for per­mis­sion to reprint this art­icle. Con­tact the author.

April 28 has many names. In Canada, it’s the Day of Mourn­ing. In the United States and the United King­dom, it’s Work­ers’ Memori­al Day. The Inter­na­tion­al Labour Organ­iz­a­tion calls it the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Marked around the world, there’s con­fu­sion about its ori­gins, even in Canada.

Around 1983, the health and safety dir­ect­or of the Cana­dian Uni­on of Pub­lic Employ­ees (CUPE), Colin Lam­bert, and his long-time friend and fel­low act­iv­ist, Ray Sentes, came up with the idea of a day to recog­nize work­ers killed and injured on the job.

As a steel­work­er and miner in Sud­bury, Ontario, Lam­bert was instru­ment­al in hav­ing man­dat­ory cor­on­ers’ inquests for all miners’ deaths in Ontario. He also lamen­ted the con­trast between the lack of recog­ni­tion for miners and oth­er work­ers who died because of their work and the large pub­lic events for “fallen” police officers and fire­fight­ers.

Lam­bert “floated the idea” with CUPE’s nation­al health and safety com­mit­tee, talk­ing about a spe­cial day of recog­ni­tion for work­ers killed and injured on the job, to be held on May 1 (cel­eb­rated as May Day in Europe and else­where). The com­mit­tee endorsed the idea. At its 1984 con­ven­tion, uni­on del­eg­ates sup­por­ted the pro­pos­al. Soon after, some CUPE loc­als star­ted nego­ti­at­ing events, such as lowered flags and moments of silence.

In 1984 and 1985, CUPE rep­res­ent­at­ives took the idea to the Cana­dian Labour Con­gress (CLC) exec­ut­ive and its nation­al health and safety com­mit­tee. Loc­al uni­ons also sent res­ol­u­tions to the CLC.

In Feb­ru­ary 1986, the CLC announced the first Day of Mourn­ing, coin­cid­ing with the first day of its con­ven­tion that year. Rather than May 1, they chose the date when the Ontario legis­lature passed the country’s first work­ers com­pens­a­tion law, in 1914. The con­ven­tion passed a res­ol­u­tion sup­port­ing April 28 as a day to “mourn for the dead and fight for the liv­ing.”

In 1990, Lam­bert and CUPE pushed for innov­at­ive ways to recog­nise the day. April 28 could be a “year-round series of pub­lic events”, not just a Day of Mourn­ing. We can attract “broad pub­lic recog­ni­tion for the day by adopt­ing a uni­ver­sal, unthreat­en­ing sym­bol of work­er safety, the canary.”

The canary’s an appro­pri­ate sym­bol,” Lam­bert said. “It shows that today work­ers are the canar­ies – they are front-line pro­tec­tion for all of us.” The canary also showed up in the CLC’s new poster for April 28.

Lam­bert and oth­ers saw the poten­tial for a day of “pre­vent­ive action for work­ers which will be recog­nized by soci­ety in gen­er­al.” They called on CUPE loc­als to have activ­it­ies in the week head­ing up to the 28th. They sent a pack­age with a new poster – intro­du­cing the canary sym­bol – and a spe­cial issue of the health and safety news­let­ter. There also was a work­place inspec­tion check­list and calls for loc­als to cam­paign for gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion of the day, and to bar­gain or ask employ­ers for a moment’s silence at 11 a.m. on April 28.

CUPE mem­bers and oth­ers respon­ded with enthu­si­asm. The Brit­ish Columbia CUPE health and safety com­mit­tee had a “Spot the Haz­ard” cam­paign for work­place inspec­tions. In Win­nipeg, Man­itoba, the Fed­er­a­tion of Labour and CUPE pro­duced tags with the canary sym­bol and “Day of Mourn­ing, April 28”. They sold them with mem­bers of the loc­al pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball team and the Boys and Girls Club, with pro­ceeds to the Club. In Wind­sor, Ontario, more than 300 people marched to the Min­istry of Labour to lay a wreath and release black bal­loons inscribed with “We came here to work, not to die”.

The cam­paign for gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion paid off. In Feb­ru­ary 1991, the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment passed a private member’s bill, nam­ing April 28 as the “Day of Mourn­ing for Per­sons Killed or Injured in the Work­place.” Pro­vin­cial and muni­cip­al gov­ern­ments also recog­nize the day.

These efforts and many oth­ers inspired trade uni­ons and health and safety act­iv­ists and around the world. Monu­ments and plaques are some of the most com­mon responses. There were so many by 2001 that Ed Thomas of Hamilton wrote a book about them [2]. The Cana­dian Centre for Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safety (CCOHS) put some of his pic­tures on a web page [3].

The cam­paign for recog­ni­tion of the day has been suc­cess­ful. Now, what about the goals behind it?


[1]     D. Wig­more. “The His­tory Behind April 28th”.  Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safety Sec­tion News­let­ter, Spring 2010. Amer­ic­an Pub­lic Health Asso­ci­ation (APHA).

[2]     E. Thomas, Dead But Not For­got­ten: Monu­ments to Work­ers. Ed Thomas, 2001.

[3]     Ccohs.ca, “Nation­al Day of Mourn­ing – April 28″, 2015. [Online]. Avail­able: http://www.ccohs.ca/events/mourning/. [Accessed: 05- Jan- 2016].

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Acknow­ledge­ments: D. Wig­more, APHA, 2010.
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