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Edmontonians walk to raise awareness for workplace safety

WATCH ABOVE: Edmontonians laced up for a five-kilometre walk Saturday in remembrance of the lives lost to workplace tragedies. Lisa Wolansky has the story.

EDMONTON – Hundreds of Edmontonians who have been touched by workplace tragedies took part in a five-kilometre walk Saturday morning.

The annual Steps for Life fundraiser was held at Rundle Park. Nearly 300 people took part in the event, which is hosted by Threads of Life, an organization that provides support services to families affected by workplace tragedies.

“Sometimes they need help coping with their new reality to move forward in life,” said Todd MacDonald, chairperson of the Steps for Life walk in Edmonton.

“There’s not many support services out there for the families and this is one that they can get into, they can join, meet other families that have been impacted.”

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According to the Workers’ Compensation Board, 169 Albertans were killed on the job last year. In the past two weeks two people have lost their lives on the job in Edmonton.

READ MORE: ‘We just dug until we found him’: Man found dead in collapsed trench

Desirae Kozak knows the pain of losing a loved one to a workplace tragedy all too well. Her older brother Jahryn was killed on the job 10 years ago while working for a gravel crushing company.

“That morning that he was working he was just cleaning some of the debris under one of the conveyor belts. It didn’t have the proper guards on it and his hoodie got caught into the conveyor belt,” she said of her 20-year-old brother.

Kozak says Jahryn’s death has brought her family closer together and they think of him all the time.

“He’s a big part of our family, we bring him up at family functions, we reminisce about him,” she said. “Would he be married? Have kids?”

Her family uses this walk as a yearly reminder of the dangers people face at work on a daily basis.

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“This is something that’s really important and there needs to be awareness,” Kozak said. “Everyone deserves the right to come home every day.”

The Steps for Life walk started in 2004 and has since spread to communities across Canada. Thirty-five walks will be held this weekend from Victoria, B.C. to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

With files from Lisa Wolansky, Global News.

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