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Day of Mourning for workers injured on the job

Day of Mourning for workers injured on the job

We the North
We the North
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A message from OPSEU Vice-President/Treasurer
Eddy (Eduardo) Almeida

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Here are a few chilling stats to think about on this National Day of Mourning.

Last year in Ontario there were 292 Total fatalities reported at work and 140,581 injuries reported. That is 1 every 19 seconds. To put that into perspective, in a similar period, Ontario had 162 criminal homicides. Both are of great concern.

I wish we could raise our health and safety thinking and concern to the level we set for community crime and personal security.

If we did, those behind deaths and injury at work would face the same scrutiny and consequences as those who assault and murder others in the community. Indeed the jails would be filled.

In that world, workplace safety would be just as popular as home security alarms.

But this is not the case. To make it so, we need to think hard about what we can all do about these numbers.

There is no reason to expect that the number of occupational illness fatalities will drop any time soon.

So, let’s remember –

  • MNR employee, Colton Liddle, was struck by a vehicle when refueling gas cans at an Esso station in Manitouwadge July 4/13. His left leg as badly injured and ultimately had to be amputated. He was an MNR Ranger crew member from Wawa.
  • Nurse Cleon Moratis, who died at work at Central North Correctional Centre, of an apparent heart attack. While not specifically due to an overt action it is nevertheless a death at work.
  • The ORNGE ambulance crash May 31/13 where 2 pilots and 2 paramedics were killed. They weren’t our members but one of the pilots, Don Filliter, was also on staff at the MNR Aviation Services out of Sault Ste Marie

It is critical for workers and unions to remember that occupational health and safety exists in the context of economic pressures that negatively impact workplace health and safety conditions.

For example, “The Better Business Climate Act,” introduced March 19, 2014 by Ontario’s provincial government, if passed, will compel government ministries to shed “regulatory burdens” and report on the reductions yearly. Good for business, bad for health and safety!

Health and safety protections have never been handed to workers.

They will not be delivered now without the actions of workers, unions, and active Health and Safety Representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committees.

OPSEU members work in many hazardous situations. From forests…water ways, highways, hospitals, institutions…offices our members face risk and danger.

We depend on each other, our training and activism to stay safe and make the workplace safe for others.

That is the Health and Safety goal we share as activists and staff as we work with OPSEU members and as we work with and for each other in this building and many other workplaces and settings across the province.

As OPSEU members reflect on the tragic toll from the past year, we re-dedicate our efforts to achieving a healthier and safer workplace.