Monday, October 18, 2010

Are safety records accurate?

The government of Alberta recently launched a new database of employer injury records. Minister Thomas Lukaszuk noted:

“Albertans have the right to know the injury record of who they are working for. We hope that making this information public will encourage employers to commit to even better health and safety performance.”

So does this database allow workers to see the injury records of their employers? My colleague, Jason Foster, does not think so:

"As one example, I requested all employer reports in Residential Construction, one of the more dangerous industries. 503 employers came up. We know that four fatalities and 325 injury claims were reported from this industry in 2009. However, not a single employer in the report was recorded as having a fatality or even an injury. Where are the deadly phantom employers? Why do their records not show up?"

The Alberta Federation of Labour has done a similar analysis:

" We found:

- Clayton Construction Limited is facing seven charges, laid September 2, 2010, for an alleged offence involving a fatality on September 2, 2008. A search on the new site came up with "no results found."

-Canadian Natural Resources faces two charges from the same fatal event. The same company has also been charged in relation to three other fatalities and three injuries - or six of the 31 active charges (20 per cent) listed by Employment and Immigration. A search of the new site brings up three records for the company, two of which have references to Lost Time Claims (LTCs) in 2008, and LTC rates marginally above the rates for the industry, but no reference is made to the fatality or charges.

-Central Alberta Well Services Corp. faces five charges for an alleged offence on August 26, 2008. A search on the new website results in a dizzying array of eight records for the company, under varying Industry Name segments, each giving different Lost Time Claim statistics."

These analyses raise very difficult questions about the quality of the data the government is using. They also raise serious questions about whether the database fulfills its official purpose: allowing workers to determine their employer's injury record. It will be interesting to see if the three workers killed in as many days this weekend, show up in the statistics for next year.

-- Bob Barnetson

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