Good Science in Plain Language

National Day of Mourning: Avoiding tragedy with a commitment to prevention and passion for action.


Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada

April 28th is our opportunity to honour our colleagues who have died or suffered a disabling injury on the job.

By Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada

Just as importantly, we cannot forget the families, friends and co-workers who continue to bear the burden of their loss.  Workplace tragedies have devastating effects on a wide circle of individuals and the grieving can continue long after the passing of a loved one.

It is a solemn occasion – a time for us to not only recognize loss, but it must also be a call to action for leaders.  It is our opportunity to rededicate ourselves to eliminating injuries and occupational disease in our workplaces.

The first Day of Mourning was initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1981, and then in 1984, they passed a resolution at their national convention declaring April 28th a National Day of Mourning to recognize those workers who were killed on the job.  The government of Canada officially recognized the date in December 1990, with the passing of the Day of Mourning Act.  Since then, it has become an international movement recognized on the April 28th date.

As leaders, we must use this day to pause, reflect, plan and communicate with all employees about our collective duty to embrace the higher purpose of accident and illness prevention and the shared values of concern for our fellow workers.  It is our chance to sit down with employees and discuss what is important in our workplaces and how to achieve our goals collaboratively and safely.  This dialogue must be supported by commitments and actions, with the outcomes being the long-term health of every employee.

This day is a sobering reminder that we cannot be complacent and take for granted the health and safety of people in our workplace.  A commitment to prevention and passion for action will be the path to eliminating workplace tragedies.


Steve Horvath is President and CEO of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada. He is formerly the President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, a national organization dedicated to promoting the total health and well being of working Canadians. In addition to his leadership at the CCOHS, he has held senior executive positions with companies in the technology, manufacturing and service sectors including responsibilities as President and CEO of multi-national companies.





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