Steelworkers honour those lost in workplace fatalities

Heads were bowed in prayer at Sparwood Centennial Square on Tuesday, April 28 as workers honoured those lost in workplace fatalities.

Heads were bowed in prayer at Sparwood Centennial Square on Tuesday, April 28 as workers in the valley honoured those lost in workplace fatalities.

The Day of Mourning is an international ceremony to remember those who have died in work-related accidents or illnesses.

According to United Steelworkers 9346 President Alex Hanson, due to the good weather, 50-60 individuals attended the ceremony.

Representatives from Teck, major contractors and local workers were present for the prayer and ceremony, which included a speech from District of Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall.

Hanson said, “Canada has one of the worst records in the developed nations for workers not going home at the end of the day. When you add in workplace death and occupational work and safety disease deaths, they might not be dying on the worksite but [rather] die from an occupational-related illness, we’re sitting at just about 1,000 a year.”

He added, “We’ve lost a lot of coalminers in the Valley over the years so it’s real [for me] … Mining is a dangerous business and we make it as safe as possible but the reality is there’s still a risk.”

The Day of Mourning came just weeks after an explosion at the Greenhills mine near Elkford sent three to hospital.

Of the explosion, Hanson said, “When we hear the Senior Inspector of Mines Al Hoffman say that it’s a ‘routine’ explosion, it signals that we, as workers, have a lot to do in regards to educating the ministry on health and safety standards.”