The Sometimes Unavoidable Dangers of Work
On April 28, let’s remember not only those who have been injured or died on the job, but those who daily put their lives at risk serving others and those who strive to make our workplaces as safe as they can be
By Eric Nederlof, Representative
I’ve gotten myself on a regular polling response list for a nationally renowned polling company. Topics I’ve been asked to give a response on are myriad and range from COVID-19 policy to beverage choices.
I’m somewhat shocked to find out what certain groups deem important enough to spend significant resources on to know about typical Canadian choices. But one serious topic recently dealt with health and safety in the workplace.
The concept of health and safety has expanded considerably over the years and incorporates a wide swath of fields now. From physical hazards and potential risks to life and limb to creating psychologically safe spaces. From illness prevention to health, nutrition, and wellness promotion. From physical and mental health first aid training to awareness campaigns for a whole variety of causes.
These are all good endeavours, and any initiative that seeks to promote good practices for safer workplaces is worth considering.
Through diligent work on continuing improvement and in sharing best practices across industries, Canadian jurisdictions are leaders in the world in promoting methods that help ensure workers make it home safe at the end of their shift.
However, there is no foolproof or fail-safe way to ensure that at all times and in all places this is possible. Unfortunately, workplace tragedies do occur. Here in Edmonton, we are grieving with the families of two slain police officers killed in the line of duty on March 16.
Senseless tragedies and inherent dangers to jobs that need doing in our society will always exist. Having to deal with unpredictable, troubled, or dangerous people, working in elements, around hazards, or with dangerous substances cannot be escaped.
One of the consequences of living in a broken world means not being able to eliminate the need for certain people to be placed into inherently dangerous situations. At CLAC, we have the privilege of representing many workers who face a variety of high-risk safety challenges regularly—volunteer firefighters, front-line healthcare workers, construction workers, transporters of dangerous goods, and many others.
A week from now, we will take a moment to remember those who have been injured or lost their lives while on the job during the International Day of Mourning, held every year on April 28.
Let’s also take a moment that day to thank all those people who do good work improving health and safety policies and procedures, who teach and enforce them, who look out for the welfare of their fellow workers so they, as much as it is possible, can get home safely at the end of the day.
Let us also, too, give a big thank you on April 28 to all the front-line workers and families of all those people who regularly put themselves in harm’s way to make the world we occupy a better, safer, and more productive place.
For working in vocations in which you face more than a fair share of the dangers and troubles of our broken world, please accept a collective tip of the hat from a grateful citizenry.