Canadian Holiday Reminds Employees They Shouldn't Work Themselves to Death

As the number of workplace fatalities around the globe continues to be disproportionately high (2 million each year), April 28 will once again honor workers who have been injured, killed and disabled on the job.

Canada's National Day of Mourning, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and, in the United States , Worker Memorial Day, give employers and employees a reason to pause and think about their workplace safety ethic.

The Industrial Accident Prevention Association has asked Canadian employers and workers to renew their commitment to making occupational health and safety a real priority in the workplace. "Health and safety excellence in the workplace doesn't happen overnight," says IAPA President and CEO Maureen Shaw. "In time, a fully-integrated health and safety culture will develop and enhance the overall quality and productivity of the work environment, which is safer for a company's workforce and better for a business' bottom line."

According to Shaw, there are five simple steps employers should take to promote safety and health in the workplace:

  • Show commitment to workplace health and safety at the CEO and senior management level.
  • Have workers participate in workplace safety efforts.
  • Have an effective joint health and safety committee.
  • Comply with legislative regulations.
  • Provide training and education for employees in occupational health and safety.

"The sad fact is that workplace fatalities, injuries and diseases are preventable, but too many organizations haven't yet made that commitment to making workers' health and safety a real business priority," Shaw adds.

In Canada, more than 900 people died as a result of work-related accidents or diseases and more than 340,000 workers were injured seriously enough to prevent them from reporting to work for at least 1 day. On the international front, an average of 2.2 million workers worldwide die as a result of work-related injuries or illnesses.

April 28, 2006 is the 22nd year that Canadians have commemorated the National Day of Mourning. In 1984, the Canadian Labour Congress declared April 28th as the annual day of remembrance for workers who have been killed and injured on the job. April 28th was chosen because it was on this day in 1914 that the third reading of the Workmen's Compensation Act took place. On Dec. 28, 1990, the government of Canada passed the Workers Mourning Day Act, establishing April 28th as the official National Day of Mourning.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work came about in 2001 when the International Labour Organization began to observe the day as an occasion for stressing the prevention of illness and injuries at work.

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