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Remembering and Committing to Workplace Safety – Day of Mourning 2020

Every year we take this day and a moment of silence to remember those who have been injured or have lost their lives due to a workplace incident and every year there are a number of workers affected by occupational health illnesses that are not shelved, but also not the main focus.

During this pandemic, the Day of Mourning has taken on a different perspective, a different meaning as frontline workers are being affected. Those workers who choose not to see their children or families in order to protect them and still do their jobs. Those workers who could be exposed to a virus that can affect everyone around them. Those workers who are no longer working and are affected and impacted due to depression, financial struggles, and mental health issues.

We have implemented protocols, programs, and procedures to ensure our people are safer and can protect their health while continuing to work, but there are a number of affected workers without the basic PPE to keep themselves safe. We don’t work in healthcare, emergency services, or in the general public, yet they affect our ability to be healthy and safe in the event of a serious incident or illness.

We at Northern Mat & Bridge can limit our exposure, and mitigate the possibility of catching a virus or other viruses; but if even one of us does catch it and comes to work; it has the potential to affect us all and all of our families. Even then we don’t know what the future holds for us which can greatly affect our own mental health and when we are working, that alone can distract us from focusing on what we need to do to stay healthy and safe.

Background

  • Injuries and deaths in the workplace continue to be a matter of important concern across Canada. Many Canadians and especially Northern Mat & Bridge work hard each day in an effort to minimize incidents.
  • Risk is an inherent element of our jobs, and this is why safety is one of the core values in our company. Since its inception, the observance of the Day of Mourning has spread to over 80 countries around the world.
  • The date 28 April was picked because on that day in 1914, the Workers Compensation Act received its third reading. In 2001 the International Labour Organization first observed World Day for Safety and Health at Work on this day. Commemorating those who have been hurt or killed in the workplace. This shows respect for the fallen, while serving as a reminder of the importance of occupational health and safety.

The Day of Mourning is only one day out of 365; that we could be exposed to or involved in a serious or fatal incident or illness and that is all it takes. One moment, of one day to change our lives and our families lives forever.

My message to you on this day of memorial is that every day, is the day to work safely, protect your health, and ensure you are mentally able to complete your job and go home healthy and safe. In times of uncertainty we make choices we otherwise wouldn’t, we as workers are more apt to take short cuts and justify the decision in our own minds. The thought that if we are more productive, working harder and faster, adding a few extra mats to a load, dropping the required number of straps, operating under a power line without a spotter, throwing extra boards or increasing the speed of the line at the plant to meet a quota is somehow okay and will make you stand out as a go getter. Those are the times when we are more likely to have an incident, those are the times that someone may not make it home or may not make it home in one piece.

On this important, very relevant day remember that one day of memorial is not enough to prevent a fatality or serious workplace injury. It is every day that we need to work safely and remember those who have lost their lives, their family members, their friends and co-workers. It is every day that we need to commit to learning from those who have sacrificed their lives. It is every day that we need to care about each other and it is every day that we need to take care of each other at work and at home. Our actions, culture and beliefs directly impact everyone around us and our ability to be healthy and safe.

Very few people we work with can say that this day of life altering tragedies has not touched them in some way. Today is the day to renew our commitment, to renew our goals, and to remember all of those who have sacrificed to make our workplaces safer for today.

Please join us in holding a minute of silence for those that we have lost and those that have lost a loved one or a co-worker

Written and Presented to all Northern Mat & Bridge Staff on April 28th by:

Kelley Winter, National HSE Manager

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