National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured on the job

Today the labour movement will honour workers killed or injured on the job with events across the country.

Today, thousands of workers, families, employers and union members are remembering those who lost their lives on the job with ceremonies across British Columbia.

The Vancouver ceremony is jointly hosted by the BC Federation of Labour, the Business Council of British Columbia and WorkSafeBC and will start at 10:30 a.m. near the Workers’ Memorial Sanctuary at Hastings Park, 2901 East Hastings St.

In 2016, there were 144 work-related deaths in B.C. Of those, 85 were due to occupational disease, mainly from exposure to asbestos decades ago, and 59 resulted from traumatic injury including 22 from motor-vehicle incidents (MVIs).

In 2016, the highest numbers of work-related deaths by work sector were in construction (30), manufacturing (25), transportation and related industries (25), public administration (19) and primary-resources sectors (14). Work-related deaths from occupational disease increased from 41 percent of all deaths in 2006 to 57 percent in 2016.

The work-related death rate in 2016 for all deaths has decreased by 35 percent when compared with the rate of all work-related deaths in 1996 in B.C.

The BC Federation of Labour will mark the National Day of Mourning this morning with a ceremony and march to the Legislature in Victoria with a call to action for government and employers to do more to keep workers safe on the job.

Around 500 people are expected to attend the event, which begins at 10:30 am today.  The event starts at the Victoria Conference Centre, Humboldt Street side and then moves to the Legislature.

On the hundredth anniversary of the implementation of BC’s workers compensation system, participants will be carrying 100 coffins to symbolize the tens of thousands of BC workers who’ve been killed or seriously injured on the job, or who suffer from an occupational disease.

The ceremony at the Legislature is expected to begin at 11:00 am with feature remarks from BCFED President, Irene Lanzinger, and other workplace health and safety advocates.

Lanzinger says worker safety hasn’t been a priority of the Christy Clark government, “Health and safety protections are weak and not always rigorously enforced.”

“Employers whose negligence kills or seriously injures workers are let off with a slap on the wrist. Injured workers and families of deceased workers have endured deep cuts in WCB benefits under the BC Liberals.”

“Our next provincial government will need to do more to keep workers safe on the job,” she says.