Over 50 people gathered at the Worker’s Memorial on Victoria Street in Trail Sunday to remember those who have lost their lives or their livelihoods to workplace accidents and industrial diseases.
Gord Menelaws, Health and Safety chair for Local 480 Steelworkers, recited a grim list of statistics on workers who have paid with their lives and health from workplace hazards.
One hundred and forty-nine workers died in B.C. last year, an increase of seven over the previous year, and 1,000 were lost Canada-wide, an average of three deaths per day.
“This can be a hard ceremony to speak at,” said Menelaws.
“When you look out and see the people whose lives have been directly affected. No one gets up for work in the morning expecting to die that day. You have to set aside a day to remember.”
Since 1970 nine workers have been killed at Teck Metals Trail Operations, the last being CP Rail engineer, Lonnie Plasko, who died while trying to halt an out of control train in 2007.
The situation has improved over the years, however, as stricter regulations for workplace health and safety have been adopted and employers place higher emphasis on adequate training and enforcement of standards.
“Teck senior management are really behind us with this,” said Menelaws. “They come out and march with us and support the day. I don’t know if it was always like that.”
MLA for Kootenay West Katrine Conroy and Worksafe BC’s Dave Mitchell were on hand to deliver speeches marking the 29th annual Day of Mourning, which was initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984.