NEWS

Ontario mourns workers who died on the job

04/29/2015 09:20 EDT | Updated 08/04/2015 10:59 EDT
"I said, 'Goodbye, love you,'" remembers Patty Penny. 

Those were the last words Penny said to her son, Luke, before he left for work on May 19, 2010. He had been employed at a construction site in Whitby, Ont. for three weeks when a garage wall he was waterproofing collapsed in a trench where he stood. 

It killed him instantly.

"It could have been prevented," said Penny on Tuesday, the annual Workers' Memorial Day or the Day of Mourning, an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

"That to me is what still sticks in my mind. He didn't have experience ... he hadn't been trained."

Penny's son's employer initially faced eight Ministry of Labour charges, but all were dropped.

More than 200 people in Ontario lose their lives every year due to traumatic injuries on the job or work-related diseases or illness, according to the WSIB.

Premier Kathleen Wynne promised government will do more to ensure safety. She was among the politicians, labour groups and families of people killed on the job to attend a solemn ceremony Tuesday to remember the lives lost due to work-related deaths in the province.

"The toll of these losses are immeasurable, and as we mourn these tragedies we accept our responsibility to learn and to do better," said Wynne.

The call for action is also for worker to identify unsafe conditions.

"In most cases, workers do not speak up. It's a culture thing, and workers have to change," said Patrick Dillion of the Building Construcition and Trades Council of Ontario.

Dillion says the annual day of mourning should become a call to action to end preventable workplace deaths.

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