Safety level

Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

A day to mourn, a commitment to change

In December 2021, the lights outlining the fishing boat the Richmond Odyssey in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, were in honour of a Mersey Seafoods employee who would never experience those things again. 

When you’ve had personal experience with losing a colleague on the job, the way Andrew Titus, Marine Manager for Mersey Seafoods has, the Day of Mourning takes on a whole new meaning.

“It’s very personal,” says the captain with 20 years of experience. “It takes me back to crew members I wasn’t able to bring home. When you’re in charge of a crew, and you don’t bring them all home for whatever reason, it gets you.”

Not all of these losses were due to injuries or tragedies at sea.

“I think about the people I’ve known who passed away on boats from heart attacks [and other health issues],” he continues. “I think about their families, losing someone so far away at sea.”

That’s why he decided to turn his grief into action.

“I went to CMAC (Canadian Marine Advisory Council) in Ottawa and told our stories of how many people we’ve had who had incidents at sea. Heart attacks, etc. I asked if we could improve the way we screen our people—how we give a marine medical. How we can make sure our seafarers are healthy before they go to sea. When we go far from shore, we’re far from help.”  

Along with advocating for better marine medicals, Titus was also inspired to look for other ways to make change. “With the help of [Mersey Seafoods], we’re looking at the mental health aspect of our crew members who have gone through traumatic situations on board. It’s difficult when you lose a close friend and you’re in that tight group. We’re asking ourselves what we can do better. What can we do to support our families? Our employees?”

For example, this year the company arranged for a minister to bless the vessels before they put out to sea, an action taken in honour of two crew members who’d been lost in the past year. “It was at the crew’s request,” says Star Donovan, Human Resources Manager, Mersey Seafood. “It was the first time that crew had been back together since losing [their crew mates].”

In 2021, 20 Nova Scotians died at work or because of their work. Of these, five people died from acute traumatic injuries on the job. There were also 15 fatalities classified as chronic – seven related to occupational diseases stemming from past exposures, and eight caused by health-related issues, such as heart attacks, which occurred at the workplace, but may or may not have been related to work. 

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Westray mine explosion, which took the lives of 26 men. Workplace safety has come a long way in Nova Scotia since then, but yet there is still progress to be made.
Every Nova Scotian can honour those impacted by workplace death or serious illness by attending an event to recognize the Day of Mourning on April 28, or by taking a moment to remember.

The people at Mersey Seafoods will no doubt pause on April 28 to think about those they’ve lost, but they’ve also demonstrated that every day is an opportunity for employers and their employees to remember the lost and commit to change that makes the workplace safer. 

Because one life lost, is one too many.

For more information on the Day of Mourning, as well as a complete list of events, go to:

Comments are closed.

Nova SAFE - App Logo (Vertical)638237311761493152