VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Even one workplace fatality is too many, says B.C.’s labour minister, telling us there have been eight deaths in just two months.
Harry Bains says six were due to fatal injuries that happened in the past four weeks, but no single industry is driving these high fatality numbers.
“There’s been a truck driver, there’s been a marine services worker, woodworking, then there’s a snow groomer,” he listed.
WorkSafeBC says the most recent deaths were two people who were fatally injured at a construction site on Gabriola Island, noting those people’s employment status is still being investigated.
Earlier this month, a faller died after they were hurt near Gold River, a tow truck driver was fatally injured in Fort St. John, and a faller died after an incident in Port McNeill.
WorkSafeBC says the data is still preliminary, but says “it is comparable to the same period last year.”
“While we don’t have the 2020 traumatic fatality numbers for Jan-Mar specifically (fatalities with accepted claims, excluding occupational disease) I can tell you that there were 63 traumatic fatal injuries in the entirety of 2020, averaging 5.5 per month,” Ivy Yuen with WorkSafeBC said in an email.
“The prevention of work-related deaths is a priority for us, along with serious injury and disease prevention. Workplace deaths are not isolated to a specific industry or workplace; they happened in construction, forestry, marine, tourism, and transportation — and in locations throughout the province.”
Bains says WorkSafeBC has to ensure there are efforts to prevent employees’ injuries.
“WorkSafeBC has the responsibility to enforce health and safety rules at workplaces. It is the number one priority that they have,” he said.
Bains says he’s saddened by the lives lost to preventable accidents and offers condolences to those affected.
“Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace,” he said. “They have the right to orientation and training, and the right to refuse unsafe work. Every workplace incident requires an investigation to determine causes and how to prevent future incidents from occurring. These are rights provided to workers through our health and safety legislation and regulations.”