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KELOWNA The death of a maintenance worker at Casorso Elementary School could have been prevented, says a Workers Compensation Board report released today by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

With 15 minutes of training this worker might not have died, CUPE Local 3523 president Bill Zeman said.

Zeman cited two broken backs, amputations and other serious injuries as examples of the boards lack of attention to workplace safety.

We have been demanding for years that the board and the WCB do more, Zeman added. We have listed the many violations of the WCB Act and they have done very little.

Last spring, CUPE made a presentation to the employer showing the need for them to take health and safety more seriously. The union also showed how much it was costing each year. But it seemed to be ignored, Zeman said.

We dont even have a central health and safety committee, he added. The city, with 500 employees, has one and a full-time safety officer. The school district employs 3,000 workers and there are only site-based committees and a part-time officer.

The WCB report is a clear signal that the school board could have done more to prevent this death, he said. The lack of safety procedures and training in our schools needs to be addressed now.

The law says school boards are responsible for making the workplace safe. It should not take a death to drive home the obvious: we are unsafe in our school workplaces.


Bill Zeman, CUPE Local 3523 President, 250-860-3523. Copies of the WCB report can be obtained by calling this number.