At 11:00 a.m. on April 26, 2019, employees of Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and its private-sector partner, Bridging North America (BridgingNA), joined together in a minute of silence to remember those who have lost their lives, suffered injury or illness as a result of work-related incidents and to honour the families and friends who have been deeply affected by these tragedies.
Employees also heard from Elisa Kilbourne whose son was fatally electrocuted at work. Elisa now volunteers as a speaker with Threads of Life – the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support, to promote workplace injury prevention and awareness and take part in building a culture of safety.
The National Day of Mourning, held annually in Canada on April 28, is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of the Gordie Howe International Bridge team and those working on the construction site is fundamental to getting the project built,” said Bryce Phillips, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority. “Today we reaffirm our deep routed commitment to our robust health and safety plan and offer our thoughts and prayers to families who have loved ones that have either been injured or killed in the workplace.”
Both WDBA and Bridging North America believe that all injuries and incidents are preventable. We are taking a ‘Safer together’ approach where we are creating and maintaining a safety culture in which each employee is personally accountable for their own actions as well as proactively accountable for their co-workers’ safety and wellbeing. This safety culture can only be accomplished with senior leadership support, proper training and responsibility at all levels of employees to adequately identify, control and mitigate workplace hazards.
“Being safer together is paramount to everyone at Bridging North America. Our goal is to ensure each and every employee leaves work and returns safely to their families at the end of the day. We observe the National Day of Mourning as a reminder of what can happen when you don’t take safety seriously,” said Aaron Epstein, CEO, Bridging North America.
During the course of construction, over 2,500 people will work directly on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, and all of them will receive comprehensive health and safety training before stepping foot on the construction site.
To date, approximately 550 individuals working on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project have received health and safety training. To start each day, employees participate in daily ‘tool-box talks’ with their supervisors and provide a safety moment at the beginning of a meeting to help bring up potential safety issues.