The start of lobster season, known as “Dumping Day,” is traditionally the last Monday in November. It’s the day fishers head out off the southern coast of Nova Scotia and set their traps for a potentially lucrative lobster haul.
It’s a way of life for many easterners, but it also comes with its inherent dangers out on the rough north Atlantic Ocean.
In 2015, a 53-year-old man died after going overboard in his vessel while setting traps, and in a separate incident, two other men went overboard doing the same thing, but were ultimately rescued.
It is always heartbreaking for the family, as well as the community, following a death of a worker.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is, it’s not unusual for fatalities to occur in the workplace in Canada.
According to a Globe and Mail report, the fishing industry is the deadliest sector of all occupations in Canada. It has almost 70 deaths per 100,000 workers (covering a period from 2011 to 2015), which is seven times higher than the fatality rates in construction.
This is unacceptable, and the fishing industry needs to take action to lower that rate.
Another article by the CBC sheds light on the discrepancy in workplace fatality statistics in Canada.
The Association of Workers’ Compensation Board of Canada has the official number at 1,000 deaths per year, but according to a study, the rate is much higher – almost 10,000 fatalities during that same time frame.
The lowball figure occurs because of the way that we collect statistics on workplace fatalities. Our reporting method is way too narrow and should be adjusted to reflect the real toll on workers lives.
What factors are affecting this under-reporting of fatalities in Canada? There are many factors, including:
- Workplace fatalities where the worker is not covered by a provincial workers compensation system and therefore not counted
- Fatalities occurring on farms may not be reported
- Many deaths caused by vehicles may be categorized incorrectly.
HR and safety departments need to ensure that systems are in place that focus on safety prevention. They also need to make certain that their organization does not add one of their workers to the workplace fatality number.
What can industries due to help improve the collection of workplace fatality statistics?
What role should the federal and provincial governments play in reducing the number of workplace deaths in Canada?