Every year since 1991, on April 28 we recognize workers who died as a result of a workplace injury and illness, through a wide range of events supported through unions, employers and governments.
As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the restriction on public events, we are recognizing and paying tribute to workers who died and/or became disabled through work related injuries/illnesses, virtually through video and online messages.
Beyond the Statistics
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2018, 1,027 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada, an increase of 76 from the previous year. Among these deaths were 27 young workers aged 15-24.
Add to these fatalities the 264,438 accepted claims (an increase from 251,508 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 33,058 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the workers compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.
And it’s not just these numbers on which we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed. (Source: Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety)
Every day, people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases – more than 2.78 million deaths per year or in excess of 7,600/day. Additionally, there are some 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries each year, resulting in more than 4 days of absences from work. ( Source: ILO )
The latest statistics on workplace fatalities and injuries from the AWCBC paints a very grim picture and should be concerning to all Canadians. In addition to the 1,027 fatalities, there were more than 260,000 injured on the job. Both these numbers are significant increases from the previous year. We also know that these numbers don’t reflect the reality of workplace death as there are many diseases that workers suffer from that are all too often not categorized as occupational in nature though they likely are.
“An often overlooked and tragic fact is that of those thousands of injured workers, about ten percent of them, will suffer a permanent condition of some sort. People with disabilities in Canada face many barriers with regard to employment and this just adds to a physical injury with mental health concerns and often social isolation.
Canadian workers deserve better and the United Steelworkers have made it a priority since our inception to fight for safer and healthier workplaces. We have fought for a place in society for those who have suffered life altering disabilities. On this Day of Mourning we reiterate our commitment to Mourn for the Dead and Fight for the Living.”
Ken Neumann, National Director, United Steelworkers
Labour Co-Chair, PCU-WHS/NIDMAR
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