Work-related fatalities provide hard lessons in safety – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – April 29, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Across Canada, and certainly in the mining heartlands of Northern Ontario, people solemnly recognized the National Day of Mourning on Sunday.

In Ontario alone, there were 298 work-related fatalities in 2012. More than 238,000 claims were made by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on behalf of sick, injured or deceased workers.

In the City with a Heart of Gold, the Timmins and District Labour Council organized a short but emotional ceremony for the public at the Miner’s Memorial, located in the regal shadow of the McIntyre Mine.

Tears were shed for those lost. Many of those present had been affected by the loss of family members or friends due to mine-related accidents or illnesses. There was also a great show of pride for how far workplace safety and training has come, even from just a few years ago.

Carole Lamoureux-Chaylt is an advocate for the Office of the Worker Adviser. She spoke at the Day of Mourning ceremony in Timmins on Sunday.

“I represent injured workers in WSIB matters, so I see a lot. But just two weeks ago, we lost my brother-in-law,” said Lamoureux-Chaylt. “He found out he had kidney cancer, and he died within six weeks. It was very, very quick. His doctors are saying that it came from his exposure to elements at the steel plant he worked at near Sault Ste. Marie.

“A cancer developed from exposure to something has a latency period of 20 to 30 years, so you look at all those factors. Even though he was retired and wasn’t at work, it’s what you’re exposed to a long time ago that comes back and catches up with you. The records weren’t as good back 30 years ago as they are now, so it makes it difficult.”

Accidents have reduced greatly in the past number of years as companies have begun to take proactive leadership in ensuring the best possible conditions for their workers.

Though many of these companies deserve credit, Lamoureux-Chaylt said she knows from experience that there is still work to be done.

“Today, it was a way of remembering my brother-in-law and others who have died, but also a way to affirm that we have to do something to make changes,” she said. “The biggest message I was trying to send was about training.

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