I am very pleased to be helping launch NAOSH Week 2012 at Centennial College on Monday, May 7th with our health and safety partners. This marks 16 years that employers, workers and governments across North America have taken the time to promote the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace.
The theme of NAOSH week this year is “Making it Work”. It reminds us that we all need to not only plan, but act. We need to constantly create awareness of these issues throughout our daily routines at work, at home and in our communities, and it is forums such as this that make this possible.
Our successes in achieving the goals of NAOSH week will result in eliminating fatalities, injuries and diseases from the workplace.
I attended the “Day of Mourning” ceremony this past Sunday, April 29th. It was a solemn ceremony, with emotional speeches of loss and remembrance. What made this ceremony particularly poignant for me was that this is the 20th anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster that occurred on May 9, 1992 in Nova Scotia. 26 lives were lost in one of Canada’s great tragedies. It reminded me that, as well as those lost to these tragedies, this is also a day to remember the surviving family members who are still living with the pain of these tragic events, and to rededicate ourselves to the elimination of workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
The 26 miners that were killed at the Westray Mines were members of the Steelworkers’ Union, and Nancy Hutchinson, who is also a member of CCOHS’s Council of Governors, spoke on behalf of the USW in an emotional “call to action” to ensure these types of disasters do not occur again.