April 28th is an important date in Canadian history!
It was that day in 1914 that Ontario proclaimed the first Workers’ Compensation Act. It is also the date in 1981 that the Canadian Labour Congress first declared as the National Day of Mourning, recognizing those workers who were killed on the job. The Government of Canada officially recognized April 28th as the National Day of Mourning in December 1990 by passing of the Day of Mourning Act.
This date is important to all Canadians because it is a solemn time in our workplaces to remember and recognize not only those that have suffered a fatality or disabling injury, but those that are left to pick up the pieces of a shattered family life or relationship and are expected to carry that burden of loss. We should not forget that these tragic events are not always a traumatic incident, watching a loved one slowly wasting away due to an occupational cancer is just as devastating to any family – and just as preventable.
“…every workplace leader needs to have a critical dialogue
with employees about what is most important in our workplaces”
As we take a moment of silence for personal reflection on this date, we should be reminded that it is a solemn time that requires more than our thoughts and conversation, it serves as a reminder that these incidents can all be prevented and that every workplace leader needs to have a critical dialogue with employees about what is most important in our workplaces and to rededicate ourselves to achieving our goals of eliminating injuries and occupational diseases collaboratively and safely.
The families that have suffered loss need our emotional support, but just as importantly, they deserve our steadfast commitment that these tragedies will not happen again. It is a time to pause, reflect, plan, communicate and, most importantly, act.
The only acceptable outcome of our uncompromising efforts in every workplace is the long-term physical and mental well-being of every employee.
By Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada
Steve Horvath is President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada. He is formerly the President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, a national organization dedicated to promoting the total health and well being of working Canadians. In addition to his leadership at the CCOHS, he has held senior executive positions with companies in the technology, manufacturing and service sectors including responsibilities as President and CEO of multi-national companies.