Occupational safety appears to be stagnating in Canadian companies

According to experts, Canadian laws are among the strictest in the developed world. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Calgary – Canada appears to have made little progress in workplace safety in recent years.

For example, no fewer than 12 work-related fatalities have occurred at Suncor’s oil sands facilities since 2014, a total that surpasses any competitor. That poor record is one of the reasons behind CEO Mark Little’s resignation last month.

Interim CEO Kris Sims acknowledged last month that the company knows it needs to improve its safety record. The time has come, he said.

He did not give details. However, Kris Sims hinted that Suncor plans to announce those intentions during a presentation to investors this fall.

“Suncor, a large company, is constantly trying to improve quality control and their methods, but we still report tragedies there,” said Shirley Hickman, executive director of a charity that helps victims’ families. What about smaller companies that don’t have the same resources as Suncor? As we continue to raise awareness about occupational safety, what is the missing piece of the puzzle?”

In 2008, 1,035 people died at work, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.

Since then, the annual average of deaths related to an accident at work or an occupational disease has risen to 945. The exact year varies slightly. Tolls have not decreased significantly, although experts say Canada’s laws are among the strictest in the developed world.

“I often hear people say that this data should decrease because of new technology, but that’s not the case,” notes Alyssa Grocutt, a PhD student at Queen’s University. When we look at them, we see that the balance sheet is stable or growing.”

His father died in 2008 in an accident at work at Suncor Energy’s facilities in northern Alberta. She examines the consequences of fatal accidents at work for relatives and colleagues.

Shirley Hickman also lost a loved one to an accident at work. His son Tim was killed by an explosion in an amphitheater. According to her, many companies struggle to integrate safety into the work culture. While many have written protocols, employees often prefer to take shortcuts.

A worker who sees something that could affect their safety should feel free to notify their supervisor, but many hesitate for fear of being perceived as a whiner, she laments.

“If we don’t listen to them, they should have enough confidence not to do the task or even leave, even if it’s difficult,” adds Shirley Hickman.

Wynny Silito from Calgary wants people to be more aware of the impact of an accident at work. This injured worker still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder more than 11 years after being exposed to a chemical that burned her torso.

“You don’t have to lose a limb to see your life changed forever,” she says.

Darren Pena

Avid beer trailblazer. Friendly student. Tv geek. Coffee junkie. Total writer. Hipster-friendly internet practitioner. Pop culture fanatic.

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