Day of Mourning to remember construction fatalities

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by JOC Digital Media

On April 26-28, workers, families and employers across the province will remember workers who died due to job-related injury or illness. Thomas Richer plans to remember his co-worker and friend Jeffrey Caron who was crushed to death by a concrete wall as they were working in a Burnaby, B.C. trench.
Day of Mourning to remember construction fatalities

The RCMP is still investigating the 2012 death which Richer believes was preventable.

Richer plans to speak at a Vancouver Day of Mourning event organized the B.C. Federation of Labour at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

"They didn't believe in safety at all," said Richer about his previous employer, J. Cote and Sons Excavating.  "I'd like to see Canadians go home safe every day, the government has to stand up and start taking action."

According to the federation, 173 B.C. workers died on the job in 2014.

Richer expressed frustration that laws like the Westray law are rarely used.

The law was established in 2002, following lobbying efforts by unions and the Westray Families Group.

It established a legal duty for all persons who direct the work of others to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public. It introduced new sections in the Criminal Code of Canada so that corporations and their representatives can be charged criminally if they fail to do so.

"The steel workers fought to get that law in effect and it's not being used," he said.

Richer also noted that a construction worker recently died in Burnaby after falling down an elevator shaft.

"I was devastated when I heard that," he said, "It just takes a piece out of me and I get more upset. How does that happen? That's another young man's life."

Richer said he recently finished studying occupational health and safety and is hoping to find a career in the industry to change it from the inside.

The Canadian Labour Congress held the first National Day of Mourning ceremony on April 28, 1984, making Canada the first country to formally commemorate workers killed in the workplace. Day of Mourning ceremonies now take place around the world.

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