Workers Health & Safety Centre

A focus for Day of Mourning — leading OHS indicators

A focus for Day of Mourning — leading OHS indicators
On April 28, communities across Ontario will gather to remember workers who have been killed, suffer disease or injury as a result of work.

On this day too they will rededicate themselves to the prevention of further needless suffering.

To help explain the scope of this suffering many will cite lost-time injury and death statistics. However, it is important to remember these statistics only represent a fraction of what is really happening in Ontario workplaces. Researchers have found them to be underestimated by as much as 69 per cent.

Consequently, rather than focusing on misleading compensation statistics, progressive health and safety practitioners advocate we focus on leading indicators or measures of effective occupational health and safety (OHS) programs and initiatives.  Experience and research demonstrates an effective agenda to ensure safer, healthier workplaces includes:
  • Full employer responsibility
  • Meaningful worker participation
  • Highest quality training
  • Hazard-based approach
  • Hierarchy of controls
  • Precautionary principle first
  • Effective regulation
  • Vigorous enforcement.


“The case for meaningful worker participation is especially strong,” says Dave Killham, Executive Director for the Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC). Killham points to a recent report from the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute which concluded direct worker participation through joint health and safety committees (particularly in unionized workplaces) makes a big difference in reducing worker injury rates.

Meantime, a literature review by Ontario’s Institute for Work and Health found, “JHSCs are a core component of any internal responsibility system, and should be a core component of any set of measures intended to capture leading indicators.” While, another important study has recently confirmed, knowledgeable, properly trained and properly supported worker health and safety representatives are attempting the greatest workplace change.

As Ontario’s government-designated health and safety training centre the Workers Health & Safety Centre is dedicated to supporting this kind of engagement. We provide the highest quality training to workers, workplace representatives, supervisors and employers in workplaces of every size and sector.

To learn more:
Visit our web resources dedicated to Day of Mourning, including a complete event listing for Ontario, a comprehensive online catalogue of Ontario worker memorial monuments, as well as a host of other invaluable training and information resources.

Be sure to download too our handy summary on realistic estimates of worker injury, disease and death in Ontario.