The National Day of Mourning is observed every year on April 28 to remember and pay tribute to those who have died, been injured or made seriously ill while at work.
The Canadian Labour Congress proclaimed April 28, 1984 as the first Day of Mourning, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Ontario approving the first Workers’ Compensation Act in 1914. The Day of Mourning was officially enshrined in national legislation by an Act of Parliament on February 1, 1991. Since then, the Day of Mourning has gained recognition and momentum, and is now marked in over 100 countries around the world.
The Day of Mourning raises awareness of preventable workplace incidents. In raising awareness of hazards and unsafe practices, safety becomes everyone’s priority. Having a day where everyone comes together to remember the victims of workplace tragedies not only offers a support system to those who have been affected, but also inspires employers and workers to strengthen safety practices, enhance compliance and raise awareness of the critical importance of workplace health and safety.
There are so many ways to participate in 2021. Whether you have some spare time to attend events, make a point of sharing important health and safety tips with your network, or prefer to show your support through donation, there is an opportunity to get involved that suits everyone.
Support the Families Affected by Workplace Tragedy
On the Day of Mourning, show your support by learning more about Threads of Life – the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support. Threads of Life is a strong advocate for workplace health and safety as well as what we stand to lose if we don’t acknowledge its importance. Programs and services include FamiliesConnect online workshops, personal family guides for one-on-one support, family forums, and prevention and awareness activities. In providing this vital programming, the charitable organization offers necessary support to families at an incredibly painful and difficult time.
We invite you to join us in becoming a regular donor, or registering for a Steps for Life walk – their flagship fundraising event – to raise funds and awareness for Threads of Life and the remarkable work they do.
Listen, Remember, Reflect
Today we can show our support and honour the lives lost or injured by listening to victims’ stories, like those of Adam Sura, and Leo Pitruzzella and Darcy Cromwell. More heartfelt tributes can be found on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Day of Mourning website, where those affected both directly and indirectly are encouraged to share memories of their loved ones.
By hearing their stories and honouring their memory, we can reflect on our own experiences and what more we can do to ensure no one else has to suffer similar tragedies.
Attend a Virtual Ceremony
Again this year, ceremonies and tributes will be held online to keep everyone safe. While we wish we could gather to lay wreaths and support one another in person, virtual events do increase accessibility for those in distant locations and with otherwise busy schedules, allowing more people to take part in this important day.
The WSIB will be hosting a ceremony beginning this morning at 10:45 a.m. on their YouTube channel. Threads of Life will also be hosting a virtual candle lighting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. You are also invited to observe your own moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.
Spread the Word
We can all do more if we know more. On this Day of Mourning, do your part by raising awareness of the importance of workplace health and safety.
- Light a Virtual Candle and share on social media.
- Wear black and yellow in honour of the lives lost.
- Check in with a safety talk – have a conversation with your team about health and safety in the workplace, provide necessary information on workplace hazards, review current policies and practices, and encourage sharing of thoughts or concerns.
- Share free resources, webinars and more related to common workplace hazards.
Take Action to Enhance Workplace Health & Safety
Perhaps the most painful aspect of the Day of Mourning is the fact that workplace injuries and fatalities are preventable. The Day of Mourning is just as much a call to action for employers and workers to reaffirm their commitment to occupational health and safety and ensure everyone returns safely home from work each day. Prevent unnecessary suffering by taking action today.
- Understand current legislation and ensure your workplace is in compliance.
- Effectively communicate health and safety policies and work procedures with staff.
- Offer workers health and safety training.
- Register for the Health and Safety Excellence program and get rewarded for improving occupational health and safety.
- Read up on best practices related to health and safety within your industry or sector.
- Reach out to a Health and Safety Consultant for customized guidance.
- Understand and follow health and safety policies and work procedures.
- Bring forward your health and safety concerns, identify hazards and report incidents in a timely manner.
- Step up as a Health and Safety Champion within the workplace.
- Join your workplace’s Joint Health and Safety Committee or volunteer as a Health & Safety Representative.
While workplace health and safety should be acknowledged, practiced and prioritized year-round, April 28 is an important reminder of how crucial workplace health and safety is and the dangers of unsafe workplace conditions and practices. On behalf of everyone at PSHSA, we thank you in advance for doing your part to commemorate this poignant, but essential, Day of Mourning.