THUNDER BAY – April 28 is the National Day of Mourning which seeks to recognize workers who have been injured or killed on-the-job.
In Ontario, in 2009 there were over 250 000 injury claims made to the WSIB and a total of 342 deaths in the workplace. To put this into perspective, a claim is made every two minutes with almost one fatality every day of the year at work.
If these are the statistics for Ontario, imagine what they might be for Canada.
This is a shocking reality. These stats do not include or even take into account all the injured worker that do not report workplace injuries.
The group that are most at risk of injury are young workers. According to a Canadian health survey, adolescents and young adults are twice as likely to sustain a work injury as adults. Furthermore, young male workers have about twice the risk of injury compared to young females. This is also reflected in provincial data for Ontario.
So why are young workers at a higher risk? There are many reasons: Young workers perform more physically demanding work than adults, thereby increasing their risk of injury. Lack of training, supervision and frequent job change also account for this higher injury rate among youth. They are also less likely to work in unionize environment where they have the safety infrastructure and security that often accompanies these workplaces.
People go to work to make a living, or to earn precious dollars for post secondary education. Getting injured at work can have devastating effects, too often preventing someone from working ever again. Perhaps even, devastatingly preventing someone from reaching their dreams and potential. Not only are they never able to work again but their quality of life, not to mention the lives of their family and friends are impacted forever.
Having strong Occupational Health and Safety Legislation is paramount in making sure everyone has a safe place to work.
For all those who assist injured workers, fight for safe working conditions, and those of us who want safe working environments for our family, friends and selves best wishes on this Day, the National Day of Mourning.