Threads of Life leads 5K walk in Toronto for families of workplace tragedy

Threads of Life, a Canadian charity, held a five-kilometre fundraising walk in Toronto on Sunday to help support families affected by life-altering workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.

The event, dubbed Steps for Life, attracted just under 300 people.

Steps for Life chairperson Sharon Freeman says the walk was the first of 28 planned across Canada, being held to educate people about the devastating ripple effects of a workplace tragedy, and how everyone can work together to prevent others from being injured or killed on the job. 

“This event provides the funding for our family programs for workplace tragedy, and it also raises the awareness of health and safety in the workplace,” Freeman told CBC News.

Freeman says individuals, companies and unions were all represented at the walk “because of the importance of workplace safety.”

Work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths are socially, morally and economically unacceptable, Freeman says.

‘They deserve to come home safe’

Marleen Pitruzzella, whose father died in a work-related incident in 2009, says she was introduced to Threads of Life by her mother. 

Pitruzzella was one of the speakers at Sunday’s event.

“My dad was a construction worker. He loved his job, loved what he did, always went out with a smile, always came back from work with a huge smile on his face, and so it was a tragedy to lose him in the way that we did,” Pitruzzella said.

“But I’m very proud and honoured to get to put [out] his story to the world so that way, they can see what we have lost and hopefully another family doesn’t have to go through that as well.” 

Marleen Pitruzzella, who lost her father in 2009 after a work-related incident, says she was introduced to Threads of Life by her mother. (CBC)

Pitruzzella says the aim of sharing her personal experience is to bring awareness to the need for health and safety in all workplaces and the entire workforce. 

“Every day you’re working alongside somebody’s mother, father, brother or son, and they deserve to come home safe,” she said.

Lynne Brownell, president and CEO of Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, says her organization is thrilled to partner with Threads of Life.

“My main message here today is really just to remind people to help where they can and focusing small business owners and employees on getting health and safety into their day-to-day [operations],” Brownell said.  

“I think for us, this kind of community event is really important because as we saw in a survey that Threads of Life did, one in five workplaces don’t have an onboarding program for new and young workers … and I think it’s more critical than ever.”

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