For companies and employees, the most important aspect of doing business is not customer service, nor is it profits, it is workplace safety. A company with poor workplace standards will have not only bad press, but lost productivity, low morale and difficulty in making profits. Canada has some of the strictest standards for workplace safety in the world, but that doesn’t mean that our workplaces are free from injury or fatalities. In 2012 alone, 977 workplace fatalities occurred according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. That translates to nearly three workplace deaths every single day in Canada. This doesn’t even include the further hundreds who die from illnesses from working long-term in conditions that cause chronic conditions (asbestos abatement, poor air quality and inadequate ergonomic conditions).
The highest incident rate per industry is construction; which had 211 deaths in 2012 (the most recent year for statistics). That means once every day and a half, a construction worker is dying in Canada while on the job. The manufacturing industry (183 fatalities), government services industry (108 fatalities), transportation (100 fatalities) and mining/oil wells (69 fatalities) round out the top five. Injuries at the workplace are much higher, amounting to 245,365 in 2012, this equates to approximately:
- 672 injuries per day,
- 28 per hour;
- 1 every two seconds;
In the time it took you to read that last sentence, three people were injured on the job. The highest injury industry is social service and health industry; which amounts to over 41,000 injuries. The manufacturing industry accounts for 38,000 injuries, while construction and transportation amount to 27,000 and 17,000 respectively.
These numbers may seem extremely high, but the good news is that through things like Occupational Health and Safety, and the inspection of premises through safety audits, workplace injuries have fallen immensely in the past 30 years. In 1982, there were 43 workplace injuries per 1,000 in Canada. That number reached nearly 50 per 1,000 in 1987. Today, the number has fallen to below 15 per 1,000.
The falling numbers in injuries over the past 30 years shows that things like safety audits do work for companies. By implementing a positive Health and Safety Program based on legislative standards it is possible to ensure that companies are protecting their workplaces and ensuring that employees are not in subjected to undue risks present while performing their tasks.