Every year, more than 1,000 Canadians die as a result of their work.
In Manitoba, 15 workers died on the job last year. Another 14 died from occupational illness. 31,707 workplace injuries were reported. Half of those were serious enough that the injured workers had to miss work time. Many more injuries were not reported at all.
Behind these statistics are countless working families that have been scarred by workplace injuries and fatalities. There is a young woman who won’t get to fulfill her dream of becoming an architect. There are children who will grow up without their father. There are seniors facing retirement without their husband.
These tragedies don’t have to happen. We can take action to ensure workers make it home from work healthy and in one piece, every day.
Role of Employers
Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, employers have primary responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.
Employers that put the health and safety of workers at risk can face penalties (up to $5,000) and fines (up to $250,000 for a first offence).
The law focuses first and foremost on the employer’s responsibility to ELIMINATE workplace hazards. Under the law:
first, employers must make every reasonable effort to eliminate workplace hazards;
second, if any risk remains the employer must then take reasonable steps to control remaining risks;
third, if any uncontrolled risk remains, the employer has a responsibility to implement safe work procedures to reduce the remaining risk; and
finally, only after all of the above measures have been taken to eliminate control and reduce risk, the employer must ensure workers exposed to any remaining risk use personal protective equipment.
Role of Governments
With the right policies and investments, governments can promote safe and healthy workplaces.
Governments have a responsibility:
to pass workplace laws and regulations that protect the safety and health of workers;
to invest the resources needed to enforce the rules that keep us safe at work;
to conduct public education and awareness campaigns that promote a culture of workplace safety and health; and
to ensure a fair and adequate workers compensation system for injured workers.
You can find Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and health law and regulations HERE. Recent updates can be found HERE.
Working Families Manitoba has produced a report card grading the provincial government on how well it is fulfilling its workplace safety and health responsibilities.
Role of Workers
By law, workers have four fundamental health and safety rights in the workplace.
Unfortunately, many employers employ a “behaviour-based” safety approach that tries to put the onus of responsibility on workers to maintaining a safe workplace. While workers should play a role in an effective workplace health and safety system, it is important to remember that under Manitoba law employers have primary responsibility to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all his workers” (Section 4(1) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act).