Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 28: Day of Mourning

The International Day of Mourning for workers injured and killed on the job is Tuesday, April 28th. In Edmonton, there will be a ceremony and reception at Grant Notley Park from 4-6 pm. It looks like there were about 120 fatalities accepted by the WCB in 2014, down slightly from 2013.

Among the dead (but not counted in the statistics above) are farm workers. Farm workers are left  out because Alberta excludes farm workers from most workplace rights (e.g., occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation) thus their deaths are not recorded in WCB stats. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released preliminary stats for 2015, noting the OCHE investigated 25 farming fatalities. It is unclear how comprehensive this list is. The absence of deaths due to occupational disease suggest not every death is captured in this list. And, of course, deaths represent only a small fraction of all injuries (if you toss in minor injuries and occupational disease, deaths represent perhaps a few as one in 3000 injuries).

Of these 25 deaths, 15 were owner operators and 5 were employees. Two were under 18. These deaths are not broken out by work-related or non-work-related. Machinery, animals, falls, struck/crush injuries and MVA lead the way in terms of cause.

On a related note, last weekend the Alberta Federation of Labour held its annual convention in Calgary. Among the motions were ones directing the AFL to file a complaint about the statutory exclusion of farm workers with the International Labour Organization as well as under the North American Free Trade Agreement. More interest was a motion to set up a compensation fund for the families of farm workers killed on the job.

Edit: I'm now told none of the farm worker motions were voted on at the AFL convention due to lack of time.

-- Bob Barnetson

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