Workers Centre celebrates health and safety activism
“Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus
This old adage implies that we live in a world of constant flux. Our experience however has shown us that more often than not, significant societal change has come about from the concerted efforts of working people, those with the conviction and courage to make a better world. That’s where change begins.
It is especially true for those dedicated to creating safe and healthy working environments. This was the case in the spring of 1974 when grassroots worker activism helped forge a new era in health and safety. Then Elliot Lake miners went on strike demanding recognition of deadly workplace hazards. The courage and determination of United Steelworkers of America Local 5762 members resulted in important workplace gains but more importantly they also laid the groundwork for Ontario’s first comprehensive health and safety law.
Activists today continue to lobby government and employers for better regulatory protection and enforcement along with a range of workplace specific solutions aimed at preventing hazardous occupational exposures. Everyday, with each effort lives are saved and suffering prevented.
To recognize and celebrate these gains the Workers Health and Safety Centre, in conjunction with regional labour councils, is again hosting activist appreciation events this fall in more than 45 communities across Ontario. Now in its eighth year, the theme for this year’s events and the wider recognition campaign is Where Change Begins.
The theme is drawn from a recent Workers Centre video production of the same name. It asks and answers the question, can we make a difference? By asking the hard questions, sharing information and acting for prevention, activists protect the health and often save the lives of workers they may never know. But perhaps their greatest gift is their belief in and value of each worker and the deep conviction that every worker can make a difference, not only in the workplace, but in the world around them.
Some of these individuals are featured in this special insert of At the Source.
From their stories you can see how they’ve already helped bring about positive changes.
Activists, their families and friends are encouraged to attend one of these community events to renew their shared commitment to safe and healthy workplaces and communities. Each person in attendance will receive a T-shirt with a logo promoting the theme Where Change Begins.
As they wear these T-shirts with pride, it is hoped others will inquire about the meaning of the phrase.
Dave Killham, Workers Centre executive director, says he hopes activists will take the opportunity to share the common and achievable goal of hazard-free workplaces with anyone who might ask.
“Individuals should never underestimate their ability to be agents of change. It’s incredibly powerful when a group of committed individuals comes together to work towards hazard-free workplaces and communities, the results can be far reaching,” says Killham. “Each of us can be a catalyst of change if we only have the confidence and courage to try.”
For additional information about a recognition event in your community contact a training service representative at a Workers Centre regional office near you or call 1-888-869-7950.