Day of mourning in Kelowna

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A day of mourning was held in Kelowna on Saturday. More than 40 ceremonies are being held across the province this weekend, including at Ben Lee Park, to remember those who lost their lives while working. Jules Knox reports.

Renee Ozee’s son died on the job, but she’s sharing his story to help raise awareness about workplace safety.

Nine years ago, Scott Ozee was electrocuted on the roof of a house in White Rock when a gutter he was carrying touched a high voltage line.

On Saturday, Renee was in Kelowna’s Ben Lee Park to advocate for better workplace safety.

“Losing my child is the hardest thing. I have to do this to get the word out about safety,” Renee said.

READ MORE: ‘Even one workplace death is one too many’: Day of Mourning observed in N.S.

The Okanagan saw eight workplace-related deaths last year.

Young men are at highest risk, according to WorkSafeBC.

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There were 158 work-related death claims in the province last year. Six of those were women.

Renee is hoping to get the word out to young workers in particular.

“If you feel it’s not safe, you don’t do it. They need to know, if they’re not giving you training, you shouldn’t do the job,” she said.

READ MORE: Olympic cauldron lit for Day of Mourning for workers killed on the job

Douglas Bates, with WorkSafeBC, said education is key in prevention.

“It’s about knowing the hazards of that trade before you go into that occupation, and then when you’re there specifically with your new employer, knowing what hazards are unique to that work site,” he said.

More than half of workplace-related deaths last year were due to an occupational disease, mainly from asbestos exposure decades ago.

Construction was the most dangerous sector.

“Every year in Canada, a thousand people do not come home from work, and that’s a tragedy,” Ian Gordon, North Okanagan Labour Council’s spokesman, said. “On top of that, 250,000 are injured or get disease at work. That’s double the population of Kelowna.”

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