Already a sombre event, this weekend’s day of mourning ceremonies will hold even more importance after the fresh tragedies at the sawmill in Prince George.
Two people died in the Monday night explosion at Lakeland sawmill — shift supervisor Alan Little, 43, and worker Glenn Francis Roche, 46.
Eleven other people were severely injured in the deadly blast, the second one in a matter of months in the province. Two workers were killed in mid-January in Burns Lake in an explosion that razed the mill there.
Thousands will gather at ceremonies across the country for the National Day of Mourning, including the one in Kamloops at St. Andrews on the Square at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It is an opportunity to both highlight the importance of workplace safety and honour those who lost their lives while on the job.
In B.C., an average of 2.7 workers die each week (including three young people), 17 workers suffer a permanent disability every working day and 2,715 work injuries are reported, according to WorkSafeBC.
Of the 142 people who died on the job in B.C. last year, the most occurred in the construction (26), transportation (24), mineral products (14) and forestry (10) sectors.
Additionally, almost three million work days were lost in B.C. last year due to accidents, illness and disease.
Workplace standards are steadily improving as employers become more aware of better safety procedures and accidents are investigated by WorkPlaceBC. Such investigations may also involve police, the B.C. Coroner Service, B.C. Safety Authority, fire departments and federal agencies like the Transportation Safety Board.
In the wake of this week’s fatalities, the provincial government has taken swift action in ordering sawmills to clean up accumulated sawdust and areas where heat or flame could spark floating debris.
More such orders will surely come as the investigations continue, but the tragedy is a wake-up call for all employers to ensure workplace safety procedures are up-to-date and being stringently adhered to.
Even one death is one too many.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.