Three KDSS students receive Grey-Bruce Labour Council awards
By Liz Dadson



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Anna Morrison (L), secretary of the Grey-Bruce Labour Council, presents awards to Kincardine District Secondary School Grade 9 students Rylee Evans, Avery Fitzgerald and Brady Masur, in honour of their written submissions for the Day of Mourning event, slated for April 28; they are standing with Rylee's presentation board

Three Grade 9 students at Kincardine District Secondary School have been honoured by the Grey-Bruce Labour Council for their written submissions for the Day of Mourning event, slated for April 28.

Anna Morrison, secretary of the labour council, was at KDSS Friday morning to present awards to Rylee Evans who will present her essay at the Bruce Power service; Avery Fitzgerald who will present at the service in Owen Sound; and Brady Masur who will present at the service in Hanover.

All three students are in KDSS teacher Chris Thomson's English class.

In her essay, Rylee focused on the health and safety of young workers.

She tells of Trista Hughes' brother, Dylan, who died three-and-a-half years ago in his workplace. He was only 20 years old and was working for a big company. He was backing up on a forklift one day and the ramp gave out underneath him.

The forklift fell and he fell out of it. The forklift ended up landing on top of him and crushing his chest.

"I have a brother named Dylan and he is 20 years old," writes Rylee. "That could have been him.

"An average of 36 young Ontario workers are injured, made ill or killed on the job every day. Think of it. That's almost two young workers injured every hour of every day and every night, seven days a week, and it's often because of what they didn't know.

She urges young workers, between the ages of 15 and 24, to know how to protect themselves on the job, and to know their health and safety rights from day one.

Rylee also outlines the things a young worker needs to know before starting a job, including: the hazards, how to protect themselves, what to do if they are injured, and their legal rights.

"I am 14 years old," writes Rylee, "and soon I will join the workforce. I am young and inexperienced. I am counting on you to help keep me and all young workers aware and safe of workplace dangers. I will do my part ... will you do yours?"

In her essay, Avery notes that in the past 15 years, the number of workplace-related deaths, injuries and illnesses have decreased almost everywhere in the world, but not in Canada. Why? Canadians have been careless!

"Forty years ago, my grandfather was injured in a mining accident," she writes. "One morning, he headed to work, leaving his wife and his four children at home, including my mother who was four at the time. It was like any other day.

"How was he supposed to know that when an explosion went off in the mine, a rock would come out from under his feet and he would fall into nothing? He couldn't have known on that morning on his way to work that he wouldn't be going home to see his wife and children that night.

"Instead, he would be spending that night, and the next night, and every day and night for the following two years, in the hospital bed. He didn't know that he would have more than 50 surgeries in his life.

"On that normal morning on that normal day, the thought never occurred to him that he'd never be able to run again, or dance again, or even walk without difficulty again. Even though he never thought about any of these things, they all happened to him. It wasn't until he was falling that he realized his life would never be the same again."

Avery writes that it's not just the workers who are affected, but their families as well. A construction worker was killed after a roof collapsed on him. He was only 33, leaving a wife, three children (ages 12, eight and five) and his parents to mourn his death.


"We can make a difference. Thousands of lives can be saved if we follow simple safety procedures and keep our workplaces clean ... That being said, are you ready to make your workplace safer for everyone, and save the lives of your fellow employees?"

In his essay, Brady writes that workplace safety rules are there to protect workers from injury or death.

"New workers may be the most at risk," he writes. "This is due to the fact that they may not be familiar with the safety regulations of their workplace. ... Another problem is that new workers are willing to try anything because they're new and want to make a good impression on their boss.

"Sometimes people are stupid, irresponsible and will try something absolutely bonkers.

"For example, in 2008, a 23-year-old man with multiple body piercings, decided that he would connect two alligator clips, which were connected to a high voltage machine, to his two nipple rings. He was electrocuted and pronounced dead when the ambulance arrived. This individual not only put himself at risk but also all of his co-workers."

As a new employee at a local coffee shop, Brady is learning that the safety regulations are there to protect everyone, such as wearing slip-resistant shoes so he doesn't fall; and providing customers with a cardboard tray if they are carrying four coffees at once so they don't get burned.

"Your safety is very important," writes Brady, "but so is the safety of others around you. ...People all over the world are caught in unsafe work practices every single day. This results in thousands of work-related injuries every year.

"We gather here today (on the Day of Mourning) to mourn those who have passed away from work injuries and those who have gotten injured while working. These unfortunate incidents are preventable by going the extra mile to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace. So, please stay safe and make sure others are safe."

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Monday, April 14, 2014