Almost 5 months have passed since the annual Day of Mourning held on April 28th. This day is used as a reminder to workers to take a second look at what they’re doing, who they are working for and make sure they are home in the evening in the same condition that they left in the morning. No pay cheque is worth losing a finger, limb or a life.
While this is a great campaign, it is important for all those in the workforce to take a sober second thought in their daily work tasks to reassess the hazards they face, and ways to minimize or eliminate them.
Just as years previous, this year has brought with it some unique challenges. We were subject to a nationwide heat wave, putting Canadians at risk of dehydration, heat stroke and sun burns. Temperatures in western Canada could be seen as high as 40 °C. While this may sound like the perfect summer weather to laze around a beach, these high temperatures have sever implications, including being held directly responsible for over 70 heat related deaths in Quebec where temperatures were seen in the high 40’s.
When temperatures did cool down there was not enough precipitation to counter act the immense drying out of the forest along the western side of North America spawning massive forest fires that produced immense smoke that travelled as far as Ontario. In some regions of B.C. and Alberta the smoke was so thick that it blocked out the sun. There were numerous days that the Government of Canada issued their Air Quality Health Index to their highest levels.
As we make our seasonal adaptation of preparing for colder weather and the inevitable appearance of snow, it is important to look back at this year in review. As they say “hindsight is 20/20”, and now is the time to take that hindsight and use it as a tool to continually improve upon our decision making. Many employers and employees were left unprepared for the quickly changing challenges of this summer. By the time they had conquered how to stave off heat related illnesses, smoke had rolled in and suddenly breathing was compromised.
Being an employer or employee during times like these can be a daunting task. There is a fragile balance for a lot of us between taking our health into consideration over having a full pay cheque. In the end there are a few things we can do;
Take a standard first aid course to help recognize certain symptoms in yourself as well as others to help minimize the severity of health related issues
Get fit tested for a fit mask to keep your lungs protected from airborne hazards like smoke particulates.
Keep having open conversations amongst your coworkers to help keep everyone informed of your day to day risks, as well as keeping safety at the forefront
As quoted from George Santayana, a former professor of philosophy at Harvard, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.