FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Members from WorkSafe BC, Fort St. John Council, employees and those who have lost a loved one by death in the workplace were on hand in Fort St. John on Friday to mark the National Day of Mourning.
In 2016, there were 144 deaths in B.C. that were work-related. 85 were caused by occupational disease primarily resulting from exposure to asbestos decades ago, and 59 resulted from traumatic injuries.
The City of Fort St. John was represented by City Manager Dianne Hunter, Councillor Dan Davies and Councillor Bruce Christensen.
Bud Phillips with WorkSafeBC says that for family or friends of a loved one that dies in the workplace, it is life altering.
“I would like to acknowledge the family and friends of those who have lost a loved one in the workplace. One day, they were faced with the situation where a father, brother, sister, mother or someone went to work and didn’t come home that day.”
Phillips says that in his experience, he has lost five people that he worked with.
“It has a significant impact for you. When you know someone and they were taken and for many of them, it was in the prime of their life that they were taken.”
In the Peace Region in 2016, there were five deaths in the area. One was in Fort Nelson and the other four were around the Fort St. John area.
“We all can do our part. Being aware, understanding the risks, talking to each other about what we can do to make it better, make it safer. As we work collectively, hopefully one day, and I hope it is before I retire, we will be able to say we’ve gone a year without having a fatality in British Columbia or at least in the Peace Region.”
Two of the four Fort St. John area deaths were related to driving, something Phillips says needs to be taken more seriously.
“Already this year, we have had two more driving fatalities. If you want to have a strong emphasis on something in your workplace, it is driving and the risks associated with driving. We all know the area is getting busier again and we need to highlight the importance of safe driving.”
City Manager Dianne Hunter said that deaths in the workplace are something that weighs on her heavily.
“For my position, everybody that shows up for work everyday is my responsibility. One of my greatest fears in the workplace I have is that I would have to make that phone call (that someone passed away). It rests very heavily on my shoulders and I take it very seriously.”
Premier Christy Clark also released a statement for the National Day of Mourning.
“These tragedies touch entire families and communities. Every single one was someone’s father, mother, child, or friend. Every single one was loved by someone, who waited for them to come home safe, only to receive the worst possible news.
To those families, your loved ones will never be forgotten.”
There were approximately 30 other ceremonies that took place in B.C.