Windsor

5 workplace deaths in southwestern Ontario this year

Criticisms from MPP Taras Natyshak follow a death in the Windsor, Ont. region Wednesday when a man working at R.J. Cyr died after a steel beam weighing more than 500 kilograms fell on him.

'Someone had to go to work that morning and not return after their day's shift. It seems so unacceptable'

Employees were emotional outside Ventra Plastics, where a worker fell through a skylight Nov. 3. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

With two workplace deaths in as many weeks in the Windsor, Ont. region, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak questions whether Ontario has enough safety inspectors to prevent on-the-job accidents.

His criticisms follow a death on Wednesday when a man working at R.J. Cyr, a steel fabricating shop in Maidstone, died when a steel beam weighing more than 500 kilograms fell on him.

Two weeks ago another man working for an electrical contractor died after he tripped and fell through a skylight while working on the roof of a plastics factory in Windsor.

There have now been five workplace deaths in the region this year. Though Natyshak says he's "comfortable" with inspectors and their role in the workplace, he has several concerns.

"Do we have enough of them?" he told CBC News. "Are they adequately spread out and represented in the industries that have a higher number and incidents of injury?"

Number of inspectors doubled

Ministry of Labour officials were not available for an interview, but they issued a statement explaining workplace injuries have "dropped significantly" since 2003.

The ministry has a complement of 445 field inspectors for health and safety with several years of experience in the construction, industrial, mining or healthcare sectors.  

"In the last decade, the ministry has doubled the number of occupational health and safety inspectors and launched a highly effective Safe at Work Ontario inspection strategy," the ministry wrote in its statement.

Ministry health and safety inspectors made over 74,700 field visits in 2015-2016.

Natyshak says he remains alarmed about the deaths in the Windsor region. In October, a worker died at Lehn Farms in Leamington. In July, a roofer fell through the roof of a GoodLife Fitness and later died. Also in July, a worker died at MCM Acres greenhouse in Leamington.

"It seems so unacceptable to me that our workplaces in this province and in this country continue to pose such a risk that we could lose our lives," Natyshak said.

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