On April 28, 2020, around 80 countries worldwide will mark an official Day of Mourning to commemorate those workers who have suffered work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. As stated by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), “the occasion is all the more poignant this year, as we pay tribute to essential workers, who may be putting their health at risk to provide the health care, goods and services we depend on [during the COVID-19 crisis].”
Because of physical distancing measures, the events usually held to mark this day are cancelled. However, the day is being marked online or via virtual events. For example, the IWH suggests you see the Day of Mourning web pages from select organizations to find out more:
- Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Threads of Life
- Workers Health and Safety Centre
- Public Services Health and Safety Association
- Workplace Safety Insurance Board
In addition, the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill should still fly at half-mast. Workers at home can still light candles, don ribbons or black armbands and observe a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. Businesses that are still open can still participate by striving to prevent workplace deaths, illnesses and injuries, and publicly renewing their commitment to improving health and safety in the workplace.
This day was officially recognized by the federal government in 1991, eight years after the day of remembrance was launched by the Canadian Labour Congress. The Day of Mourning has since spread to about 80 countries around the world and has been adopted by the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade.
Although April 28 has been singled out, this day is a reminder that making workplaces safer should be a daily effort.
Every day, employers are called to provide safe workplaces with appropriate safety equipment and, most importantly, with sufficient training for all workers. Workers must recognize that they have a right to a safe workplace, to educate themselves about safety issues in their industry and to speak up when conditions are not safe.
The Day of Mourning precedes the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week, which is an annual, continent-wide event where employers, workers and all partners in occupational health and safety collaborate to promote injury and illness prevention in the workplace. The success of NAOSH Week is rooted in a community-based approach. Although, the NAOSH Week related events may not be physically held this year due to COVID-19, NAOSH week starts May 3, 2020, and ends May 9, 2020. For more information on virtual events, visit the NAOSH website.
On April 28, remember all the workers who have been killed, injured or become ill in the workplace, remember to work safely everyday, and remember to participate in making your workplace safer!
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