CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Monday, December 18, 2006

media coverage of fatalities study

Average of five people die each work day
Date: December 12, 2006
Source: Globe and Mail
Page: A10

The number of work-related fatalities is Canada is rising sharply,
revealing a dark side to the boom in the oil fields, mining and the
construction sector.

It also reflects a steady increase in the number of workers dying from
long-ago exposure to dangerous products such as asbestos, according to a
report being released today by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

In 2005, the number of workplace fatalities totalled 1,097, an average
of five every working day, said Andrew Sharpe, executive director of the

"The numbers and rates of workplace fatalities are troubling," he said.
"Other countries are making progress in this area but we're not."

In fact, only four other countries have higher rates of workplace
fatalities than Canada -- South Korea, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey.

Dr. Sharpe cautioned, however, that the lack of standardized
measurements makes direct comparison between countries difficult. What
is more important, he said, is the trend.

"In almost all other industrial countries, workplace fatalities are
going down, but not in Canada."

He said one explanation is that Canada's "goods-producing sector" is
booming, and it represents a much larger percentage of the economy than
in most countries.

In fact, the industries where workers have the greatest risk of dying on
the job are those that typify Canada's image: fishing, mining, forestry
and construction.

Canadian workers are also paying the price for the widespread use of
asbestos and its continued mining and export. Almost two-thirds of
occupational exposure deaths were related to asbestos.

The 119-page report, titled Five Deaths a Day, shows the number of
work-related deaths has risen 45 per cent, to 1,097 last year from 758
in 2003.

Of the 1,097 deaths, 491 were due to on-the-job accidents, 557 related
to diseases related to occupational hazards and 49 weren't classified.
The statistics are drawn from provincial workers' compensation boards
and include only deaths for which there was a claim.

The report includes an extensive list of examples of workplace deaths,
such as: a ski guide caught in an avalanche; a worker who died of
bladder cancer as a result of exposure to chemicals in a smelter; a
construction worker electrocuted when aluminum gutters he was installing
on a home touched electrical wires; an auto mechanic who died of
mesothelioma (a rare form of lung or abdominal cancer) after years of
exposure to asbestos in brake pads; and a driver whose truck overturned,
crushing him under the load.

The report shows that for every death, there are 390 serious injuries.
While the number of injuries has fallen sharply, the number of deaths
continues to rise. "I don't really have an explanation for that," Mr.
Sharpe said.

Over all, the work-related fatality rate is 6.8 deaths per 100,000
workers in Canada, but there are significant provincial variations,
ranging from a high of 11.7 per 100,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador to
a low of 1.5 per 100,000 in Prince Edward Island.

Men are 30 times more likely to die of work-related causes than women,
according to the report. Older workers are also far more likely than
young ones to die from work-related causes.

Study points to asbestos risks: Canada resists efforts for international ban
The Windsor Star
Tue 12 Dec 2006
Page: A8
Section: News
Byline: Eric Beauchesne
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - Nearly five Canadians on average died every single working day
last year because of a work-related accident or illness, according to a
report today that expresses "grave concern" that such deaths are rising
-- not falling as they are in most other industrial countries.

"We have also linked the increase in workplace deaths in Canada to
asbestos exposure," says the Centre for the Study of Living Standards
report, which is critical of Canada's continued mining, use and
exportation of a substance that many other industrial countries have

"Indeed, Canada refuses to sign an international agreement to ban the
export of asbestos," it adds.

Canada earlier this year reportedly blocked efforts by other nations to
have asbestos -- which is now produced only in Quebec and exported
mostly to underdeveloped countries -- placed on an international list of
banned substances.

A call to the office of Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn was not
returned Monday

Asbestos-related illnesses alone accounted for 62 per cent of deaths
from occupational diseases and 30 per cent of total workplace fatalities
in 2004, the most recent year for which there are full figures, the
report says. "The increased fatality rate from asbestos, up from 0.4 per
100,000 workers in 1996 to 1.8 in 2004, accounted for the lion's share
of the increased incidence from occupational disease," it says.

Further, it warns that while most of the deaths due to asbestos date
back to exposure before the implementation of stricter controls, the
number of work-related deaths due to the substance has still not likely

NDP MP Pat Martin, a former asbestos miner, expressed shock at the
increase in workplace deaths and the role of asbestos in that increase,
and anger at the Canadian government's support for the asbestos industry.

"Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known,"
said the Manitoba MP, who still undergoes yearly tests on his
asbestos-scarred lungs. "And Canada is in complete denial of the health

The asbestos mines in Quebec are mostly located in economically
depressed areas, and critics suggest the government has taken a stand
against closures for that reason.


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