First responders joined a crowd that gathered at city hall on Thursday to remember workers killed, injured or disabled on the job.
The Day of Mourning is an annual event and this year reflected on the 166 workers who were killed or injured on the job last year.
“Today, we come together as a community too pay our respects and extend our condolences,” said Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner on the steps of City Hall surrounded by colour guards from the RCMP and Red Deer Emergency Services.
“Every day workplace accidents occur. And every day we become more cognizant of the impact,” she said.
“As a society it is our pledge to ensure the safety of our workers and endeavour to prevent as many accidents as we can.”
Schreiner said legislation is a measure that “serves to preserve the sanctity of our workers.”
The NDP government updated Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act last November.
Two years ago, Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was passed although new regulations are not yet in place as public consultation continues.
Trevor Hovdebo, of the Parkland Regional Safety Committee, said one death is too many and organizations like his are highlighting ways to keep workers safer.
The number of workers killed and injured has not significantly increased but, unfortunately, has not significantly decreased in recent years, he said.
Jan Chandler, whose son Ben suffered a brain injury on the job in 2004, gave a moving speech about how his recovery brought the two closer together.
Her son, whose skull was fractured by a piece of equipment on a service rig, amazed all by recovering enough to leave hospital after a month. He continued to work and returned to work in the office at his oilpatch company.
“Looking back on it, Ben’s injury was his greatest gift to me because we got so emotionally and spiritually connected and that remains every day,” she said.
Sadly, her son lost control of his motorcycle in Sylvan Lake in August 2006 and was killed.
Chandler said her 23-year-old son had been arguing with his girlfriend and drinking with a friend before getting on his motorcycle.
She believes the brain injury also played a role in the accident.
“Do I think Ben would be here had it not been for the workplace injury — yes.”