With the help of an honour guard of eight red-serged RCMP officers, Red Deer marked the National Day of Mourning on Friday to remember people who have died or been injured at work.
Last year, 144 women and men died in Alberta due to workplace injury or illness. Candles were distributed in memory of these people at the cermemony held outside City Hall.
“When a loved one goes to work each day, no one believes they will not return to their families at the end of their shift, or will become injured. Unfortunately each year many Canadians workers lose their lives on the job and many others become disabled, or die from work-related injuries or diseases,” said Patricia Couture, a member of the Red Deer and District Labour Council.
Workplace health and safety is not just a worker or employer issue, it also a community concern as loved ones are left behind to cope with their loss or to become caregivers, assistants or navigators of the (Workers’ Compensation Board) system, she said.
She encouraged workers to advocate for, and employers to maintain, safe workplaces and to develop joint labour-management committees, and reminded workers to stand up for health and safe work environments.
Unsafe work comes in many forms she said, and while people often think of involving dangerous equipment, working alone, violence, bullying and harassment are also workplace safety issues and detrimental to everyone, she said.
A number of other dignitaries spoke, including Mayor Tara Veer, who said in her declaration of the Day of Mourning, that it provides an opportunity for everyone to recommit themselves to making workplaces safer.
Several wreaths were placed at a memorial, which included a hard hat and pair of work boots.
A new Fallen Worker Memorial Project at Bower Ponds has been undertaken by the Parkland Regional Safety Committee.
Liane Fuller, who sits on the committee, said after the ceremony that they are raising funds for the project, which includes a bench and pergola where people can sit and reflect, or families can just go and enjoy the park. The memorial is expected to be in place by next spring, she said.
Anyone interested in donating or being involved can contact Treena Dixon at Prime Boiler Services Ltd.
The ceremony was organized by the Alberta Construction Safety Association’s Parkland Regional Safety Committee and Canadian Society of Safety Engineering – Central Alberta Chapter.
The annual five-kilometre Steps For Life walk to support those who have been affected by a workplace tragedy will take place in Red Deer on May 6 at Bower Ponds. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. followed by the walk at 11 a.m.