Kitchener-Waterloo

More work needs to be done to protect workers on the job, Waterloo region labour council says

The Waterloo Regional Labour Council says there is more work to be done to better protect workers from injuries and fatalities on the job as the National Day of Mourning is just days away.

In 2018, more than 2,000 people were critically injured and 52 were killed on the job in Ontario

2017 numbers from the Association of Workers' Compensation show manufacturing and the health and social services industries had the highest numbers of lost time claims due to an injury across Canada. (Matt York/Associated Press)

Days ahead of the National Day of Mourning, the Waterloo Regional Labour Council says more can be done to better protect workers on the job.

On Sunday, local labour groups will come together at Victoria park to recognize national day to commemorate those who have been injured or lost their lives while on the job.

"We want to make sure moving forward that when people leave their house for work, that they are able to come home to their families and loved ones," Kelly Dick, executive director of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council (WRLC) told CBC News.

More than 2,000 people were critically injured while working and 52 were killed in Ontario in 2018, according to the Ministry of Labour.

Numbers from 2017 from the Association of Workers' Compensation show manufacturing and the health and social services industries had the highest numbers of lost time claims due to an injury across Canada.

Enhancements to regulations or training requirements, such as working from heights or with forklifts, as well as having better access to health and safety training online, have helped better protect workers on the job, said Laura Russell, a partner with the law firm Mathews Dinsdale Clark LLP in Toronto.

"It's certainly helped ensure that employers are making a consistent effort to have their workers understand some of those added perils and have some best practices to follow," she said.

More room for improvement

Federal and provincial governments have focused on improving regulations and training for dangerous jobs or workplaces, like in construction, other industries and occupations need more attention.

Despite those efforts to better protect workers on the job, both Dick and Russell say, there's more work to be done.

"Trucking and transportation ... certainly has some significant areas of added peril, some which have been addressed and others maybe not," Russell said.

She adds new industries that allow people to work from home or allows for shared workspaces in different locations need attention.

Other areas of concern for WRLC include employers using more online tools to help "educate themselves" on employment standards. 

"We would hope that employers will not cut corners and that they will actually do the training and then get their people to do the training as well," Dick said.

Russell said making training and resources more accessible is a good thing, but worries that employers and employees may not be able to apply it.

"Not everybody learns well that way and it's difficult to assess if other people are learning properly and are able to apply it," she said.

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