New government efforts to reduce injuries

By Asha Tomlinson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

Last month, one construction worker died in Alberta and two others were injured after a 12-metre fall at a native high school work site. They were installing the roof of the school’s gymnasium. That same day, an industrial accident left one worker dead and another in critical condition after entering the tank of a semi-tanker trunk and inhaling residual fumes of Diethanolamine — a substance used in oil drilling.

Two years ago, a 17-year-old died after becoming entangled in a conveyor belt while cleaning at a sawmill northwest of Edmonton. Earlier that year, a man was crushed after a five-metre-high stack of fibreboard collapsed on top of him. The firm was fined $144,000, a dramatic increase from the $10,000 to $40,000 penalty normally imposed.

It was time to take action, says Clint Dunford, Alberta’s Human Resources and Employment Minister. Dunford remembers when he used to boast about the province’s lost-time claims rate. In 2000, Alberta’s rate was at 3.4 workdays missed per 100 person-years worked, a number he was proud of until the wake-up call.