In Canada, more than 450 workers were killed and 63 000 were injured over the last ten years. These injuries cost the Canadian society nearly 19.8 billion dollars each year in health care expenditures and reduced productivity, hospitalizations, disabilities and premature deaths
Construction workers: 3 or 4 times more accidents
According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of work accidents varies greatly depending on the province. The provinces of New Brunswick and Ontario have a work accident proportion lower than the national level, with 7.8% and 11.4% respectively, whereas Saskatchewan and Alberta are higher than the national level with 23.6% and 19.7% work accidents. These disparities could be the result of the provincial legislation differences concerning occupational health and safety. Years later, some acts are unsuited to workers’ reality.
According to The Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), the Canadian provinces with the most accidents in the construction industry in 2015 are as follows:
- British Columbia (accidents with lost time: 7199; fatal accidents: 27)
- Quebec (accidents with lost time: 5309; fatal accidents: 19)
- Ontario (accidents with lost time: 4632; fatal accidents: 70)
- Alberta (accidents with lost time: 4429; fatal accidents: 43)
- Manitoba (accidents with lost time: 1923; fatal accidents: 6)
- Saskatchewan (accidents with lost time: 1046; fatal accidents: 7)
Companies are responsible for implementing safety measures to protect their workers. However, it can be complex to set up the tools to better comply with the rules on construction sites, improve the collaborative process protecting workers and ensure better prevention.
Here is a reminder of the key prevention measures for construction workers:
Preventive measures for construction workers
- Before the work begins, inspect the work environment to detect real or potential hazards and take the appropriate control measures. Be aware of the ever-changing work conditions.
- Before the work begins, inspect all the equipment and machinery to detect any defect.
- Maintain the tools and equipment in good operating conditions.
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing, including safety footwear.
- Make sure the work zone is uncluttered.
- Avoid awkward postures or taking frequent breaks.
- Learn the safe lifting techniques.
- Complete the appropriate training before starting any task, particularly high-risk tasks such as working at heights, hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout) and confined space entry.
- Apply the recommended work shifts and know the risks associated with shift work (rotation).
- Understand seasonal risks caused by working in extreme temperatures.
- Know whom to obtain help in case of emergency when working alone.
- Know the emergency intervention plans before starting work.
In 2015, 852 deaths occurred at work in Canada, the most important risk factor was the exposure to harmful substances or environments.
Essential procedure for the protection of construction workers:
- Confined space access
- Working at heights
- Electrical safety
- Machine lockout and tagout
- Material handling
- Use of tools and equipment
- Working alone
- Working in extreme temperatures
- Safety in the event of a fire
- Safe lifting techniques
- Respect the company safety rules
- Check frequently the information on chemical safety and the WHMIS 2015
- Learn the procedure to report hazards
- Use appropriate maintenance practices
All statistics mentioned in this article come from Statistics Canada and The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC).