George Church from WorkSafeBC spoke to the crowd about the importance of workplace safety and remembering those who have been injured or killed on the job.

Day of Mourning ceremony recognizes workers

On April 28, about 35 people gathered at the District of Fort St. James office in Fort to remember workers.

On April 28, about 35 people gathered at the District of Fort St. James office in Fort to remember.

There were representatives from WorkSafeBC, Tl’oh Forest Products, Apollo Forest Products, KDL, Ministry of Forests, RCMP, Conifex, District of Fort St. James and Public Works.

Councillor Dave Birdi and George Church, senior regional officer for the Prince George office of WorkSafeBC, both spoke to those gathered and a wreath was lain.

“I think in light of all the recent mill accidents it clearly illustrates why the Day of Mourning is very relevant in our region,” said Church.

The group was remembering those who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.

One week after the tragic mill explosion and fire which killed two and injured many more at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, the ceremony had all the more meaning.

First recognized in 1984, the day gained national significance in 1991 with the Workers Mourning Day Act.

Canada began the tradition, but the day is now observed in many countries around the world.

WorkSafeBC recorded 142 workplace fatalities in 2011, 71 of which were the result of occupational disease, mainly due to exposure to asbestos, according to WorkSafe.

Ten of the total deaths were attributed to the forestry industry, four to oil, gas and mining. The industries with the most work-related deaths were the general construction and transportation industries.

By region, two deaths occurred in the Fraser-Fort George area and one in the Bulkley-Nechako. By far the greatest number of deaths took place in the greater Vancouver area.

So far this year, with the Burns Lake Babine Forest Products explosion and fire and the more recent Lakeland Mill explosion and fire, the area is keenly aware of potential hazards from working in industrial work environments.

Just as the paper was going to press last week, news of another workplace fatality came out of the Plateau Mill outside Vanderhoof. A maintenance employee for contractor BID Construction was killed early Thursday morning. The BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC were on site investigating the incident.

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