Furthering a leader’s dedication to workers’ health and safety

A new fellowship award for research in occupational health and safety and work disability honours Ralph McGinn, who devoted his career to worker safety. 

Photo of Ralph McGinn

Ralph McGinn
Photo credit: © WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation
Board of B.C.), used with permission

Ralph McGinn, known for his dedication to workers’ health and safety, was the chair of WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors when he passed away suddenly on May 11, 2020. Many people paid their respects and shared their praise online.

“There are countless workers alive today because of [his] legacy — not just in Canada, but as far afield as Australia, Africa and Latin America. And there are many workers who will go home safe tonight to their families because of the work Ralph did,” reads this statement from the B.C. Federation of Labour.

One of Mr. McGinn’s colleagues recalls meeting him in Geneva when he was chief mines inspector for B.C. Says Andy King, former leader of the United Steelworkers’ Health, Safety and Environment department: “He chaired an international meeting on occupational health and safety in open pit mining in 1991. He has been my standard by which to measure the best in public service ever since.”

“Ralph also thoroughly understood the value and importance of effective Return to Work and Disability Management programs, the positive impact that effective policies, programs and practices in these areas could have on the economic, social and psychological well-being of injured and disabled workers while at the same time reducing costs to employers and society at large,” reads a post from Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences in Port Alberni, B.C. The text is from a longer communiqué by the International Disability Management Standards Council, “Remembering a Global Leader in Workplace Health and Safety.”

The Ralph McGinn Postdoctoral Fellowship continues a legacy

On February 12, 2021, WorkSafeBC launched the Ralph McGinn Postdoctoral Fellowship. It supports doctoral graduates who are training for careers as academic researchers in occupational health and safety or work disability.

The award is open to researchers holding a postdoctoral position at a Canadian university or research institution. To be eligible, research projects should be aligned with WorkSafeBC’s mandate and research priorities. Among these priorities is “Encouraging a culture of safety, and promoting safety leadership in workplaces, with a focus on ensuring worker engagement and participation.” Postdoctoral researchers at Canadian universities or research institutions have until April 9th to apply for the fellowship.

Reading the many tributes to Mr. McGinn, I can imagine that he would be glad to know people are continuing the work he was so devoted to. My condolences to all who knew him.

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