April 28, 2012
Today at 11:00 a.m. construction sites across this country will go silent as we stop working for two or three minutes to consider the imponderable; people die and are injured at work or suffer the lingering effects of industrial disease contracted as a result of work. On government and “official buildings” flags will be at half mast and ceremonies held and wreaths laid. A cynic might ask “Why bother”????
If you look at the numbers of deaths and injuries nothing ever seems to change 1,014 workers died in Canadian work places in the last year for which statistics are available. Last year was not any different. Over 249,945 Canadian workers were injured in their work place to a significant enough degree have to take off time from work and thereby become a statistic. These people represent roughly 1% of the Canadian work force. The numbers speak for themselves they represent suffering, sorrow and perhaps a disregard for safety in our work places. There were over 1 million accident reports.
2011 was not unique, few work place deaths made Page 1 in the media; why is that?? Is it that death or injury in the work place is so common we have become inured to it?? Out of sight out of mind is not good enough; We need workers, employers, governments and the public to understand that 1 death by “accident” is 1 too many!!
There is an enormous human cost in the work place health and safety issues. Every young worker who is killed leaves behind parents, a spouse and children; every older worker who dies from industrial disease suffers and leaves a spouse, children and grandchildren. The injured are such a large cohort that they equal the population of mist major cities.
So, to answer the cynic above we, Canada’s Building Trades Unions, need to take up that role that we have had in our Industry, in our greater Labour Movement and in society and that is the promotion of health and safety at work (it doesn’t end when you snap the lock on your tool box, if you are doing work at home you are at risk, taking the right precautions there matters just as much)!
Our Movement must understand and embrace the idea that all work place deaths and injuries are preventable. This is something that we can accomplish and the next time you get pizza, a cap or jacket for X hours of safe work maybe it is appropriate to think about what that means and to ask yourself if we can work X hours safely why not 2X, 3X or 10,000X ??
Remember those who suffered to build our nation today.
Be safe at work and be your brothers’ (or sisters’) keeper.
April 28th is much more that just two minute silence and a few flowers!!!!
For more Information please contact:
Robert R. Blakely
Director of Canadian Affairs