Health & Safety Night in Canada (Editorial)

Hockey's visor debate shows how unions can fail to drive home the safety message, says Canadian HR Reporter's managing editor John Hobel
By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/20/2004


ot since Jacques Plante decided he’d had enough pucks to the face and donned the first goalie mask in the middle of a 1959 NHL game, has hockey equipment caused such a stir. Forty-five years after Plante struck a blow for workplace health and safety and literally changed the face of goaltending, the league is in the midst of a brouhaha about players wearing visors. CBC hockey commentator Don Cherry has even turned it into a language row, with comments about French-Canadian “sucks” who wear visors. Only in Canada, eh?

People don’t always think of hockey as a worksite, but it is. And it suffers from the same health and safety problem many worksites do. Substitute “visors” with “hard hats” or “goggles” and you have a situation that plays itself out across the country — be it a sports arena or a construction site. Too many men think wearing proper safety equipment is inconvenient, uncomfortable and wimpy. Rooted in laziness and machismo, it’s an attitude that results in preventable injuries and ends careers and lives.