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Injured workers advocate pleased WorkSafeNB hired more inspectors

An advocate for injured workers is congratulating WorkSafeNB on its move to hire more job site inspectors.

WorkSafeNB hired seven additional health and safety officers in an effort to be 'more collaborative'

Tom Barron, a workers’ advocate, said he's pleased WorkSafeNB has hired more health and safety officers. (CBC)

An advocate for injured workers is congratulating WorkSafeNB on its move to hire seven more job site inspectors in an effort to be "more collaborative and more proactive."

"This looks like it's a step forward in the right direction," said Tom Barron, of BarronT Labour Relations in Moncton.

"We have not seen the accident rate in New Brunswick decline. And it's probably the result of the lack of education, lack of inspection that's going on within the workplaces."  

Barron said if the initiative leads to better workplace safety education for both employers and workers, the results will soon be evident.

"That can be measured very easily by virtue of the statistics," said Barron.

6 deaths in 2015

A review by CBC News revealed six on-the-job deaths so far in 2015. WorkSafeNB records showed that in 2014 there were only three, but the years 2013 and 2012 each saw seven workplace deaths.

In addition, another 24 workers died during the three-year period ending Jan.1, 2015 after suffering on the job injuries in a year other than the one in which they died.  
Gerard Adams, WorkSafeNB president and chief executive officer, said they'll now visit employers that have not been inspected in the past five years.

WorkSafeNB statistics on lost time injuries show a consistent improvement over the past five years. In 2010 there were 5,971 injuries and in 2014 the number was 5,349. 

The seven additional health and safety officers brings the provincial total to 38.

Gerard Adams, WorkSafeNB's president and chief executive officer, said the extra staff will have very specific tasks.

"We'll visit employers in high-risk industries that haven't had an inspection in the last five years," he said.

Richard Blais, the director of compliance for WorkSafeNB, said workplaces that have not been visited in five or more years are those that have not drawn attention to themselves.

"We are not able to go to all workplaces on a regular basis," said Blais.

"It's primarily because they have probably had, either by chance or by effort, very low or no injuries within their workplaces."  

In addition, says Blais, the officers will perform more inspections outside of regular work hours at such places as residential construction sites and health-care facilities.

New Brunswick's Occupational Health and Safety Act gives WorkSafeNB health and safety officers the power to enter a job site "at any reasonable hour and without notice." Once there, an officer can, among other things, "conduct any tests, take photographs, make recordings, take any samples and make any examinations he considers necessary and advisable."

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