When somebody dies on the job, it affects the entire community. That was the recurring message from guest speakers at the United Steelworkers Local Union 1-85 on April 28, the National day of Mourning.
Every year close to 1,000 men and women lose their lives across Canada, and millions more globally, due to work-related incidents or occupational disease. According to WorkSafeBC, 122 workers died in B.C. in 2015.
“One is too many,” said Kevin Somerville, sawmill manager at Western Forest Products. Somerville spoke to more than 40 audience members at the Steelworkers hall in remembrance of fallen workers in the forestry industry. He said there was about eight or nine fatalities in the logging industry last year.
Mayor Mike Ruttan was also among the speakers at Thursday’s ceremony and spoke on the importance of safety measures in the workplace.
“Workers need to look after themselves,” Ruttan said. He mentioned the work-related fatality rate is falling in B.C. but that we still have a long way to go.
Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay – Alberni, spoke about mental health in the workplace and that these issues are important to recognize.
“We need to mourn for the dead and fight for the living,” Johns said. After the speakers finished those in attendance gathered outside to lay a flower on the cenotaph outside the Steelworkers Hall on Montrose Street to honour the dead.