More than a dozen mourn 175 workers killed on the job in 2023

More than a dozen mourn 175 workers killed on the job in 2023

More than a dozen people mourned the 175 workers who were killed on the job site in B.C. last year for the Day of Mourning.

“These are not just numbers on a page, they represent the untold suffering of individuals who put their bodies on the line each day,” said Cory McGregor IBEW Local 230 member.

April 28 is the Day of Mourning across Canada where workers, unions, employees, friends and families mourn workers who lost their lives due to a workplace injury or illness.

Day of Mourning is also a day advocates push employers to create safer workspaces for employees.

On Sunday, more than a dozen people attended a ceremony at Camosun’s Lansdowne campus, one of at least 40 ceremonies in the province.

According to WorkSafeBC, 175 work-related death claims were accepted last year in B.C.

“The instant when people are not returning home on that day, that brings great grief to my soul and heart,” said Amber Leonard, CUPE BC general vice-president.

In 2019, the number of claims was 140 which has steadily increased every year except for 2023.

Advocates say that number is likely higher since not all work-related death claims are accepted.

“There are pieces of work that typically don’t fit the parameters of when we’re at work because they’re just one-off,” said Leonard.

Five industries saw more than 10 claims last year with general construction having the highest number of work-related deaths at 34.

Charlotte Millington, a vice president of the Hospital Employees’ Union says there’s a dire need of adequate support for workers and their families.

In the healthcare industry, she said nurses are an example of workers needing extra resources to handle difficult and dangerous work situations.

“Their day on the job is somebody else’s worst possible fears coming to realization,” said Millington.

“[It gives] them incredible amounts of pain that they can’t talk about with their own families. They can’t talk with anybody because we work in healthcare and this is a confidential experience.”

The Capital Regional District accounted for 12 of the work-related death claims, the second highest in the province.

One of those claims was for Steve Seekins, a 52-year-old Oak Bay worker who was killed by a driver in May 2023 while inspecting a manhole.

“Steve was just an absolutely amazing person. Just absolutely every day showed up with a smile on his face. Took every task at hand, and just did them with a smile,” said colleague Pat Smith in an interview last year.

“Always, always talked about his family. His children, his wife. Just honestly — I’ve never met someone so genuine. It’s really tough.”


Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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