Warnings to improve workplace safety have been ignored, says AFL
EDMONTON, April 28 /CNW/ - The number of Alberta workers killed on the
job jumped by 24 per cent last year while the provincial government
failed to fulfill its responsibility to protect its citizens in the
New government figures show that 136 workers lost their lives in 2010,
up from 110 in the previous year.
"We warned the government time after time that more needed to be done to
save lives and prevent injuries as our economy recovered," says Gil
McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, which
represents 140,000 workers. "Sadly, our warnings were largely ignored
and the result has been more preventable deaths - more families missing
Hundreds of workers are attending a wreath-laying ceremony in Calgary at
noon today at the City of Calgary Workers Memorial, on the southwest
corner of Calgary City Hall at 9th Avenue and Macleod Trail S.E. They will march there carrying union
banners from the Westin Hotel at 320 4th Ave. S.W., where they are attending the biennial AFL convention. The
ceremony is part of the International Day of Mourning to remember those
killed and injured on the job.
"These new fatality figures make a mockery of last year's claim by
Employment and Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk that the province
was making 'good progress' in reducing workplace injuries and
accidents," says McGowan.
While the province has taken small steps, including a limited increase
in the number of safety inspectors, the AFL says much more must be
done. The government has still failed to respond to a judge's
two-year-old recommendation to include agricultural workers in healthy
and safety legislation after an inquiry into the death of Kevin
Chandler. It has failed to fully respond to the shocking gaps in health
and safety enforcement revealed by the Auditor General last year.
The AFL has repeatedly called for simple action to improve workplace
safety, including posting the full safety records of employers online,
rather than the meaningless statistics now provided; increasing the
province's dismal record for prosecuting employers whose unsafe
worksites cause injury and death (the prosecution rate for workplace
fatalities is 2.8 per cent); giving inspectors the power to issue
tickets for violations during inspections; and introducing mandatory
worksite health-and-safety committees that include workers.
McGowan noted that, in 2010, up to 49 Alberta workers died from being
exposed to asbestos. "Only a few days ago, Stephen Harper was
campaigning on expanding asbestos exports to nations with lower
workplace standards than Canada, while scores of his fellow citizens
have died or are dying because of exposure to this hazardous
substance," says McGowan.
SOURCE Alberta Federation of Labour
For further information:
Gil McGowan, president, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888
Terry Inigo-Jones, AFL Communications Officer, 780-910-1137