By Bruce Bolduc
Special to Ontario Construction Report
The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honour those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Employers, safety professionals, supervisors and workers need to do more.
All too often, safety is considered an afterthought. It will never happen to me, or I’ve never seen anyone get killed at work. It doesn’t happen here.
Having personally investigated numerous critical injuries and fatalities, I’ve seen firsthand the toll it takes on everyone. I was only there for a second is all too often the statement used to justify the risk.
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada. 882 were male workers, and 43 were female workers. Among these deaths were 29 young workers aged 15-24.
Add to these fatalities the 271,806 accepted claims (an increase from 264,438 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 33,615 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.
And it’s not just these numbers on which we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted – their lives also forever changed.
With these sobering numbers, we ask that all workplaces and employers take the time to do everything possible to ensure a safe workplace for all.
Do not lose the important message, that those that have died, or been seriously injured have demonstrated. That a momentary mistake or lapse in judgement, or failing to take all necessary steps, can have far reaching costs.
Bruce Bolduc is a consultant at Construction Workplace Safety Training Inc., based in Barrie.