Local 480 hosts annual vigil Saturday in Trail

United Steelworkers Local 480 honour colleagues who lost their lives from occupational diseases or work-related accidents this weekend.

The United Steelworkers Local 480 are hammering out a lesson on safety this weekend to honor colleagues who lost their lives from occupational diseases or work-related accidents.

Instead of being adorned with tool belts, hammers and overalls; Local 480 will march in a walk of remembrance down Bay Avenue to the Family and Memorial Worker Park across from the Trail Memorial Centre.

The memorial will be open to everybody and will begin the march at the Local 480 Hall at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday. The service will begin around 11 a.m.

“It’s to remember workers who died or were injured—it’s like Remembrance Day,” said Steve Como, the safety coordinator at Teck. “Unfortunately these kinds of things do happen.”

The procession opens a forum for residents in Greater Trail to honor friends, family members and colleagues who have passed away while they were trying to earn a living.

Their lives will be celebrated in a prayer, march and a public address from David Mitchell, a local occupational hygiene officer, this Saturday.

The ceremony is a national day of mourning that raises red flags about the importance of utilizing preventative safety measures on job sites.

“A lot of times we get so overwhelmed by our daily tasks and we don’t get time to reflect on the people who have been killed on the job,” said Gord Menelaws, the health and safety chair for the United Steelworkers Local 480. “These are people just like you and me, they left to do an honest day of work and for whatever reason, they never returned home.”

The ceremony provides a public celebration of life and it allows the community to mourn for the dead, and fight for the living.

In 2011, WorkSafe B.C indicated that almost three million (2,870,352) days were lost as a result of injuries or diseases sustained in the workplace.

In B.C., an average of 2.7 workers die each week, 2,715 work injuries are reported every week and 17 workers are permanently disabled on a daily basis. According to WorkSafe B.C., the Central Kootenay region recorded one death, and another in the Kootenay Boundary region in the last year.

“We’ve done a lot of work to reduce injuries on job sites,” said Menelaws, “and we’ve made a lot gains.”

There is an online memorial at http://www.dayofmourning.bc.ca/