Workers Health & Safety Centre

Barbara Turnbull journalist and former workplace shooting victim dies at age 50

Toronto Star journalist, and former workplace shooting victim, Barbara Turnbull recently died of complications related to pneumonia.
Turnbull’s untimely death reminds health and safety advocates of the continuing need to address the root causes of occupational violence.
Barbara Turnbull was a high school student working a night shift at a convenience store in Mississauga, Ontario, when, on September 23, 1983, she was shot in the throat during a robbery. The bullet shattered the fourth vertebra rendering her a high-level quadriplegic. She spent several weeks on life support and over a year in hospital and rehabilitation facilities.
The robbers escaped with $200.00.
Turnbull’s (pictured here) fight to recover from the shooting as well as her bravery and independent spirit inspired many throughout the Toronto region. She graduated with honours from Arizona State University’s journalism school and was subsequently hired by the Star in 1990. She became a champion of disability rights and organ donation over an incredible career as a writer and reporter at The Star.

Sadly, Turnbull’s tragedy is not an isolated incident. To help prevent similar tragedies, workers and their representatives demanded and won related changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) in 2010. Under the Act, employers are legally required to develop and implement a workplace violence and harassment policy and program to protect all workers.

They must also provide all workers with information and instruction on the content of these policies and measures. In addition, the law requires measures to address domestic violence as a potential source of workplace violence.

Even with legislation in place, many workers still face an increased risk of violence in the workplace. Risk factors such as serving the public, handling money and other valuables, working night shifts and especially working alone are continuing factors which some have left unaddressed.
The Workers Health & Safety Centre offers training and resources to help workplace parties understand their legal duties and responsibilities and develop comprehensive workplace violence prevention programs.
To learn more:
Call: 1-888-869-7950