A report published by the Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) shows workplace fatalities are up 45 per cent from 1993 and 18 per cent from 2004 compared to 2005. The statistics point to glaring failures to protect workers’ lives.
The report, Five Deaths a Day: Workplace Fatalities in Canada, 1993-2005, gets its title from the fact that there were 1,097 workplace fatalities in 2005 or five deaths per workday, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC).
The CSLS report provides detailed analysis of these fatalities, based on factors such as industry, age, geography, trends in fatalities, as well as a comparison of Canada’s record internationally. Some key findings include:
· Asbestos-related workplace deaths accounted for 31 per cent of all workplace fatalities.
· The incidence of workplace deaths for men was 30 times higher than for women in 2005.
· The incidence of workplace deaths for older workers (60-64) was 10 times higher than for young workers (15-19).
· Canada had the fifth highest rate of workplace fatalities of 29 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, according to the International Labour Organization.
· Half of all workplace fatalities are attributed to occupational disease.
The report states an obvious fact that CUPE has been declaring for many years: workplace fatalities are preventable and unacceptable.
“Unfortunately, the CSLS report shows only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to workplace fatalities,” said CUPE’s Health and Safety Branch director, Anthony Pizzino.
“These statistics only take into account deaths recognized by compensation boards. They do not consider the many other deaths that go unreported or uncompensated,” said Pizzino. “For example, the occupational disease statistics – particularly with respect to asbestos – are surely grossly underestimated as many deaths are attributed to factors other than the workplace, when, in fact, asbestos exposure at an early age may be the real cause for a worker’s death decades later.”
The report also points out the failure of training and enforcement. Workers are not being properly trained, properly informed of their workplace rights, and properly equipped with the tools and techniques to work safely. Enforcement of existing health and safety laws that protect workers is also failing based on these fatalities.
Go here to read the CSLS report.