Bruce Power observes Day of Mourning

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Bruce Power staff and its trade unions took time out of their days Tuesday to pay tribute to workers who were injured or killed on the job.

The Grey-Bruce Labour Council organized a ceremony Tuesday morning at the Bruce site to mark the annual Day of Mourning. This year marked the event’s 25th anniversary.

“It reminds us of how easy life can be lost when we fail to keep safety at the (forefront) of our minds,” said John McManus, the manager of OPG’s Nuclear Waste Management division.

Bruce Power President and CEO Duncan Hawthorne, left, and John Suager of the Bruce A Restart carry the wreath during the annual Day of Mourning ceremony at Bruce Power Tuesday. (Kiel Edge photo)

Speakers from the various groups working on the Bruce Power site, as well as trade union representatives and reverend Diane Eaton began the ceremony. The ceremony then moved outdoors for the placing of a commemorative wreath at the cairn and a moment of silence.

“As long as I am CEO of this company,” Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne said, “I can guarantee that safety will never be second place. It’s too important.”

Last year, 488 fatality claims were reported to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Almost 70 per cent of the fatalities came from occupational diseases. In 2008, 317,031 injury claims were reported to the WSIB and more than 1,000,000 workers have been injured on the job across the province since 2000.

The Day of Mourning began in 1984. Seven years later, it was officially recognized through an Act of Parliament. Flags across the Bruce site, as well as the flags at Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill were lowered to half-mast for the day to honour those injured in workplace accidents.

The event has grown into a worldwide day of remembrance. It is observed in nearly 80 countries and 20 nations have officially recognized its importance through government legislation.

“All the messages (here) are consistent,” said John Sauger, vice-president of the Bruce A restart. “We mourn, and we recognize none of these (injuries and deaths) should have happened.”

Bruce Power officials said the company is proud of its excellent safety record. Hawthorne reminded employees that the company is a small community and each person is responsible for the safety of others.

Sauger said that safety is the most important aspect of everything done at Bruce Power.

“Safety is not a priority here because priorities change,” Sauger said. “Safety is something we carry with us. Values don’t change and safety is a core value.”

The ceremony, which began at 10:30 a.m. also included a piper and family members of employees killed during plant construction in the 1960s attended the event. The Day of Mourning is held Apr. 28 to reflect the first comprehensive workers’ compensation act, which was passed Apr. 28, 1914.