The Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia has just released their 2012 Annual Report and the statistics are staggering.
Last year, 32 Nova Scotians did not make it home from work.
Of the 32 fatalities in 2012, ten Nova Scotians died on the job due to an acute traumatic event in the workplace. This represents an increase of four acute fatalities from 2011.
2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Westray Mining Disaster where 26 miners were killed in an underground methane explosion. The mining company was charged with 52 violations under the Health and Safety Act but after several months the charges were stayed. In April of 1993, two of the managers were charged with manslaughter. Those charges were quickly dropped by the judge. In July, new charges were laid and after a long trial, these charges were also stayed. A court appeal ruled that a new trial should be held. To this day, nobody has ever been held legally accountable for the deaths of 26 miners after prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to secure convictions.
Despite the lessons of Westray, workers continue to be killed and injured on the job at alarming rates. Despite hundreds of workers being killed in the past 20 years, we really aren’t any safer at work than we were then. Negligent employers need to be held accountable for not providing a safe work environment for their workers. It is simple: Kill a worker, go to jail.
The Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council will remember these fallen workers at the Day of Mourning Ceremony on April 28th at 11:00am at the Nova Scotia Legislature.