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Organizer says Day of Mourning will highlight Westray disaster

An official with the Strait Area District Labour Council says representatives continue to fight for workplace safety improvements.

Blair Hill says the Westray mine explosion will be the focus of the National Day of Mourning; the event is being observed in the Quad Counties at the Unifor hall on Reeves St. in Port Hawkesbury at 7 p.m.

It's held every April 28 to remember those killed or injured at the workplace; May 9 will mark exactly 25 years since a blast at the Westray mine in Pictou Co. killed 26 men.

Bill C-45, known as the Westray Bill, came into force 12 years later; it was meant to increase corporate liability and ensure safety.

Hill tells The Hawk a lot still has to be done to improve safety.

"It's an ongoing battle for the safety laws and training," he says. "I know it's hard to prevent everything, but it seems like we're at kind of a stalemate, like we're not advancing lately."

Hill says a former Westray mine worker will speak at Friday's event, and a Nova Scotia Federation of Labour representative is scheduled to attend as well.

The Day of Mourning will be observed at six other locations in the province outside Port Hawkesbury- Sydney, Halifax, Trenton, Kentville, Lunenburg and Yarmouth.

Hill says it's important people continue to learn from Westray.

"It's something that shouldn't have happened in this day and age, and did happen, and something we don't ever want to happen again," he said. "You've got to keep on remembering it, and try to prevent future accidents like this."

The most recent figures from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada indicate there were 852 workplace deaths in the country in 2015.

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