Minister praises courageous mom

Mother of man killed in workplace lauded for safety speech.

A Whitehorse mom who lost her only son on a work site has been lauded for her courage in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Rosemarie Lachnit, whose son, Nicholas, died on a construction site seven years ago, was praised by B.C. Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid at a Day of Mourning ceremony in Vancouver.

“I’d like to thank Rosemarie from the bottom of my heart,” said MacDiarmid, referring to Lachnit’s emotion-laden address to a crowd of several hundred at Jack Poole Plaza.

“It takes a special kind of courage for a mom to speak about workplace safety,” said MacDiarmid.

The minister said the sawmill explosions and fires which have killed four workers in Burns Lake and Prince George this year are not far from people’s minds. Day of Mourning ceremonies, which honour workers killed and injured on the job, take place around B.C. this weekend.

“Every single accident is preventable,” she said. “We need to do more than we have in the past.”

A tearful Lachnit told the crowd that her son’s death was “stupid and unnecessary.”

Working at a Surrey condo project, he fell three storeys from an unguarded, open balcony and died later in hospital with his mom at his side. Lachnit said the contractors were fined less than $50,000.

“Nicholas was mischievous and loved to argue. He had the most awesome smile. I didn’t appreciate it until he died,” she said.

Lachnit, a single parent, went home alone to Whitehorse after losing her only son. She has since become a volunteer speaker for workplace safety.

“My big fear is that he died in vain. Nicholas had no protection from falling,” she said.

Occupational diseases and asbestos-related illnesses killed 71 of the 142 workers who WorkSafe B.C. said died on the job in 2011.

Forty-two fatalities were the result of traumatic injuries and motor vehicle accidents accounted for 29.

Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, called for stiffer penalties for negligent employers, including jail terms.

Michael Lovett, who lost a leg during a 1999 workplace accident, said he feels fortunate to have survived being caught by a fast-moving conveyor.

“I cannot describe the terror I was going through,” he said. “I was no match for heavy machinery. I lost my leg, but my life was saved by a steel-toed boot.

“I want everyone to remember workers who did not make it home,” he said.

As posted in The Province (dated April 29, 2012) by Kent Spencer

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