She lost her son in a workplace accident nearly 7 years ago and vows to not let people forget

Categories: Canada



Robert Morneau, an electrician, died from falling through a skylight at Ventra Plastics in 2016

Posted: May 02, 2023

Denise Morneau says she’s always willing to speak about her son’s tragedy in an effort to do whatever she can to keep every worker safe. (Dale Molnar/CBC)
CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa speaks with Denise Morneau about the loss of her son Rob in 2016 in an industrial accident, as well as local occupational health and safety expert Larry Masotti.  15:41

Denise Morneau says if she had the power to keep everyone safe in the workplace she’d do whatever she could.

The Windsor woman lost her son, Robert, in 2016, when he fell through a skylight while working as an electrician at Ventra Plastics.

“I go for a walk and a lot of times see people out on the roof working,” said Morneau.

“They don’t have any gear on like Rob didn’t have any gear on that day. Whether it was his choice or that it wasn’t necessary, I don’t really know that, but I see some of these people working and I say, ‘please be careful up there and I’m saying a prayer for you that you’ll be safe.'”

Rob Morneau, left, and his wife Tricia are pictured. Rob died in a 2016 workplace accident and Tricia passed away from illness roughly one year later. (Denise Morneau)


Morneau describes Robert as someone who lived each day to the fullest and was kind-hearted and quite the jokester.

She says the pain has never gone away for her and her family, but they continue to live one day at a time and “keep moving,” which includes reminding others of the tragedy that happened to Robert.

“It took me a long time for them to allow me to, but I was able to go in and just touch the site where he fell, because I just felt that I needed to do that.” 

“I want all of these workplaces to make their places as safe for every employee, because we are all worth living our lives to the fullest.”

Today the province is marking Occupational Safety and Health Day. It’s about looking at ways to make workplaces safe, and honouring those who have been injured or died on the job. 

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) says it handled 220 worker death claims in 2022, however, Toronto’s Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) says its research indicates under-reporting of hazardous conditions and exposures.

“This routine of under recognition in many ways is an affront to the suffering of workers, their families and communities,” said WHSC executive director Andrew Mudge.

While Larry Masotti says health and safety at work continues to see things like falls, slips and machine pinch points — the workplace safety and prevention advisor says it’s becoming more complicated.

“Some of the technological advances that bring into account drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printers,” said Masotti. 

“At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also considering mental health empowerment, violence and harassment, inclusion, diversity, equity and decolonization.”

Larry Masotti, with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, says he believes workplace injuries and illnesses tend to be improving, however, fatalities are not. (Shutterstock)

Based on his experience in the field, Masotti says he believes workplace injuries and illnesses tend to be improving, however, fatalities are not.

“In some cases like the construction field, it’s very dynamic in nature. It changes every few minutes. Other organizations or other workplaces are more static production-oriented where you can anticipate things.”

How is work-from-home changing workplace safety?

Some people’s offices are at home, so they’re dealing with isolation issues, according to Masotti.

With more people continuing to work from home, instead of inside of an office, he says it’s important to still do quick safety assessments of your home.

“Am I working somewhere that is functionally ergonomic? Do I get up once in a while and stretch? Do I take my eyes away from the screen on occasion? Do I take a walk?”

Masotti says working from home can highlight psychosocial hazards that often don’t get taken into account. 

“If I’m speaking to someone on a virtual platform and my partner or child is shouting in the distance and I’m distressed because I’m wondering what is going on, I may make a quick move. I can fall off my chair, I fall down. I step. I misjudge. Those are things that you don’t anticipate all the time, but we need to be aware of them.”

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