When is Enough, Enough?


What is an acceptable number of workplace fatalities? Is there ever an acceptable number of workplace fatalities? Most of us would say no, but do we even know what the current fatality statistics are in Canada? Again, most of us would say no.

For the last 10 years in Canada, an average of 1000 workers a year have been killed in the workplace. The most current data we have is from the Associations of Workers’ Compensation Board of Canada (AWCBC), which revealed 951 workers died on the job in 2017.

Recently, it was also reported that the US saw the highest number of workplace deaths since 2008, which was recorded at 5250 deaths in 2018. Doing some simple analysis, 5000 workplace deaths is a larger number than 1000, but does this lead to the conclusion that it is more unsafe for workers in the US than in Canada?

When we compare workplace fatalities between Canada and the US, we can agree on the following numbers:

  • Canada: 951 deaths in 2017
  • US: 5250 deaths in 2018

Discounting the issue of different reporting years, it does not take a scientist to realize that something is not right.

Canada’s workplace fatalities rate is much higher, because Canada has a much smaller population of approximately 35 million people compared to the US’s approximate population of 327 million. For the ease of math, one could argue that the US’s population is 10 times that of Canada’s. Therefore, if Canada had 10 times the population than it does currently, our workplace fatalities would be at approximately 9510 a year.

What this means is, on a roughly per capita basis, workers in Canada are dying at twice the rate, compared to workers in the US.

This is not acceptable. When is enough, enough?

Canadian employers and provincial and federal governments must take note of this alarming statistic and develop a national campaign to combat this terrible workplace reality, with the ultimate goal of eliminating workplace fatalities.

Every worker has the right to come home every night.

Discussion Question:

What can an HR department do to increase awareness about workplace fatalities in Canada? Develop an awareness campaign that could be implemented at a large manufacturing company that has plants all over Canada.