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  • Writer's pictureAccess Environmental Solutions

National Day of Mourning

Access Environmental Solutions recognizes April 28 as the National Day of Mourning, a day to commemorate and promote workplace safety and health. It's a time to reflect on the importance of creating safe working environments and protecting workers from harm. This year, in addition to recognizing the risks of traditional workplace hazards such as falls, machinery, and chemical exposure, we also need to acknowledge the silent danger of asbestos exposure.


Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in construction and manufacturing from the 1930s to the early 1990s. It was popular because it is heat-resistant, durable, and an excellent insulator. However, it is also a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other respiratory diseases.


The health effects of asbestos exposure often take years to manifest, and workers may not even be aware that they've been exposed until decades later. In Ontario, 52,000 workers are exposed to asbestos annually and 91% of these are related to construction, renovation, demolition, and maintenance activities. Asbestos-related diseases are the top source of workplace deaths in Canada (since 1996, almost 7,000 approved death claims stem from asbestos exposure).


Despite being banned in Canada in 2018, asbestos remains present in many older buildings and structures. Workers in industries such as construction, demolition, and renovation remain at risk of exposure.


On this National Day of Mourning, we need to remember the workers who have perished from asbestos-related diseases and recognize the ongoing risks that workers face. We also need to commit to preventing future exposures and protecting the health and safety of workers.


Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workplaces are safe and free from hazards, including asbestos. This responsibility includes identifying asbestos-containing materials present in the workplace, offering sufficient education and training to employees on how to manage it, and implementing appropriate measures and procedures to prevent exposure.


Workers also have a responsibility to protect themselves by obtaining proper training, adhering to safety protocols, and notifying their superiors of any issues pertaining to workplace safety.


As we recognize this National Day of Mourning, let us not forget the workers who have been affected by asbestos-related diseases. Let us also commit to creating safe working environments where workers can perform their jobs without fear of harm. By working together, we can ensure that all workers not only make it home safely at the end of each day but also have the chance to enjoy a healthy, well-deserved retirement!

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