Respect gained for workplace hazards

  • May. 18, 2011 5:00 p.m.

A somber ceremony was happened upon while heading to Journey Middle School last month on an un-related matter.

Catherine Alpha’s grade-6 class was gathered on April 28 where the flags fly just south of the building itself.

A yellow flag had been raised as part of a CUPE-staged effort signifying an annual day of mourning for those who have lost their lives or were injured in workplace incidents.

The Journey Middle School Students were hearing of an especially wrenching incident that had inspired the so-called “Grant de Patie Law.”

Grant de Patie was the young gas station employee in Maple Ridge who had been dragged to death several years ago after trying to stop a motorist from fleeing the station without paying for his purchase.

“The numbers are staggering,” states the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety on its website.

“In 2009, 939 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada – down from 1,036 the previous year. This represents more than 2.57 deaths every single day.

In the 17-year period from 1993 to 2009, 15,129 people lost their lives due to work-related causes (an average of 889 deaths per year).

The experience apparently made a significant impact on the students, eight of whom were later eager to comment on it.

Each was asked for their personal impression, their opinion on the issue of workplace safety.

Matt Holmes –

“I was just glad that they put up a law to protect workers.”

The de Patie-related legislation had mandated that all-night places of business not be staffed by a lone attendant, that at least two be on site. This stipulation, according to some, has not since been universally followed.

Bobby Nex –

“It was very nice to honour the workers. I think not many people will do this because it’s optional. Not a lot of people will honour others, unless it’s related to them.”

Haley McEachen –

“I thought it was a really good thing to do, to recognize the people who have died working for different companies.”

Jennifer Laharty

“It was good to remember, and I was kind of surprised that there weren’t any laws that protected younger people, or a lot of women.” Jennifer said she felt there should be stronger laws protecting younger people and women in the workplace.

Ty Boake –

“I really respect the young workers who dedicated their lives to help us and make the environment a better place, like the young man who got run over because he tried to stop someone from stealing gas.”

Spencer Leslie –

“I just think it’s a nice day to honour the people who died. And I think we should remember women’s rights as well as men’s… and honour them.”

Hannah Dumont

“I think it’s a really good thing to have a day to remember the people who have died on the job, especially the young ones who have lost their lives at a young age.”

Katie Haulahan

“I think not that many people know about it, because they’re not working. But when they start to work they’ll see the dangers for younger workers because they don’t have as much experience and they don’t get told all they need to know about the dangers.”

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