(Posted on January 17, 2017)

On October 26, 2006, Town of New Glasgow Public Works employee Michael Bonvie died at the scene of a preventable workplace accident on Foxbrook Road, Westville, NS at 9:30 a.m.  On that fateful day, Michael lost his life while working on a construction site when a trench collapsed.  Another town employee also sustained minor physical injury.  Several other employees were on site

Memorial site to honour worker Michael Bonvie in New Glasgow NS

and witnessed this tragedy. It is a day that no one will ever forget as so many lives were changed forever. Michael was a devoted son, a loving father, a loyal friend, and a good family person who deserved to return home to his family at the end of the work day.  Michael’s father is a retired Public Works employee with the Town of New Glasgow and Michael had been very proud to be following in his father’s footsteps. The loss to his family was unspeakable and will be etched in their hearts forever.  Those who were employed with the Town of New Glasgow at that time, still remember the day with shock and sadness. It was a grave loss and its impact is still being felt today.

The Town of New Glasgow initiated a new system for workplace occupational health and safety and has diligently worked to improve its workplace safety culture and programs over these past 10 years. A special place of remembrance and reflection was created in New Glasgow not far from the Public Works Department and was built by Michael’s colleagues and friends. The monument includes a large rock that came from the quarry of SW Weeks Construction, a company Michael had worked with for many years prior to joining the Town of New Glasgow. There are park benches as well as trees planted to symbolize Michael’s two daughters and recently a new tree planted this year for the 10th anniversary and in acknowledgment of Michael’s new grandchild. On the first anniversary of Michael’s death and the preventable workplace accident and every year since, the Town holds a special ceremony to remember and reflect.  This ceremony is attended by town employees, town officials and members of the Bonvie family.

Ten years later, the loss is as real and as painful as it was in 2006.  What has changed is the safety culture and commitment to ensure such a tragedy never happens again. In addition to the special annual event, there have been many improvements made to ensure safe work policies and practices that include an unwavering commitment toward workplace safety, a very active JOSH Committee, and comprehensive NAOSH Week activities. All departments and all employees work together conscientiously, diligently, and responsibly to help us ensure that as a municipality and as a workplace New Glasgow strives to be at the forefront of municipal workplace safety. We know that workplace safety is a partnership between employee and employer.

The annual New Glasgow Workplace Safety Day has been a poignant reminder to each and every member of the Town of New Glasgow that workplace safety belongs individually to each of us and also collectively as team. Each Workplace Safety Day, New Glasgow also invites a representative of Threads of Life to share his or her personal story of workplace loss as a reminder of how so many people are impacted by these workplace injuries and deaths. The stories shared resonate with our employees and truly make a difference. A banner was also designed which features a photo of Michael and the hand written words of his young daughter as she grieved for her father and had to face her first Christmas without him. An annual proclamation is declared by the Mayor and the Town`s Chief Administrative Officer. Images and messages from the annual Workplace Safety Day are shared through Town of New Glasgow social media platforms.

Only by working together can we assure there is workplace safety at every work site, on every work day. We will always remember Michael Bonvie and the loss endured by his family and friends. We will continue to make workplace safety a commitment for life.

New Glasgow NS

New Glasgow NS

This post was prepared by Lisa M. MacDonald, CAO and Debbie Greencorn, co-chairs of our JOHS Committee, and Kim Dickson, Director of Marketing & Communications for the Town of New Glasgow Nova Scotia
www.newglasgow.ca
New Glasgow NS

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