Day of Mourning 2024: Workers Have a Right to Safety on The Job

National Day of Mourning for People Killed or Injured in the Workplace

New Westminster, BC – Today we recognize the National Day of Mourning for People Killed or Injured in the Workplace – commemorating those who have died or been injured as a result of their job. This day serves not only moment of solemn reflection but also as a call to action, urging workers, decision-makers, and employers to take decisive steps to ensure workplace safety.

“Every person deserves a safe working environment – one that guarantees their health and safety without compromise,” stated UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “However, unsafe workplaces are still a reality in British Columbia and across Canada. Today, and every day, we call on governments and employers to prioritize worker safety, enforce health and safety regulations, and hold negligent employers accountable. We must reject the idea that profit should ever take precedence over safety and refuse to accept that loss of worker lives is an acceptable cost of doing business.”

We must also acknowledge the often-overlooked aspects of workplace safety, such as mental health. The toll of long hours, intense stress, and inadequate support can be as dangerous as any physical hazard. It is crucial that mental well-being is included in our definition of a safe working environment, and that employers recognize and mitigate the risks of this hidden hazard as they would any physical hazard.

UFCW 1518 members who serve in home support and community health roles encounter a variety of unique challenges that arise from the dynamic nature of their work. Unlike traditional workplace settings, these professionals operate in diverse environments that can change daily. This variability can expose them to physically strenuous activities, high levels of stress, and sometimes even the threat of violence, placing them at significant physical and psychological risk. It is essential that there are robust safety standards in place not only in conventional workplace environments, but also those in which these workers operate.

“The right to refuse unsafe work must be upheld without compromise. Our governments must enforce health and safety laws effectively, ensuring employer negligence is met with significant consequences that protect the well-being of all workers,” says Novak.

On this National Day of Mourning, we call upon all levels of government to commit to enforcing and strengthening the laws designed to protect workers. Join us today in both remembering those we have lost and reaffirming our commitment to securing the rights and safety of every worker. Together, we must fight to ensure that no worker is forced to sacrifice their safety for their livelihood.

For more information on how to report health hazards and maintain a safe working environment, members are encouraged to visit our website to learn more.