Canada leads industrialized world in workplace deaths

Seven out of every 100,000 workers killed on the job in 2001, number of non-fatal injuries also high
||Last Updated: 09/04/2003


anadian workers aren’t as safe on the job as they might think, according to a soon-to-be published study that concludes Canada has one of the worst workplace safety records in the industrial world.

Only Italy is as dangerous a place to work among the 16 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The findings will be published by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, according to the

Vancouver Sun


According to a draft copy of the report, there were seven workplace deaths for every 100,000 workers in Canada, the same rate as in Italy. Rates from other countries include:

•New Zealand: 5.3 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•France: 5.0 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Australia: 4.0 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•United States: 4.0 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Germany: 3.1 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Switzerland: 2.3 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Finland: 2.1 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Denmark: 2.0 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Norway: 1.6 deaths per 100,000 workers;

•Sweden: 1.5 deaths per 100,000 workers; and

•Britain: 0.9 deaths per 100,000 workers.

The report is going to be extra critical of Canada, because it hasn’t shown much improvement when it comes to workplace safety. While all 16 countries reported a drop in the fatality rate from 1980 to 2001, Canada’s fell the least — 6.6 per cent. By comparison, Italy reduced its job fatality rate by nearly 60 per cent.

Next to Canada, the country that reduced its death rate the least was the Netherlands, which saw a 30 per cent drop.

Non-fatal injuries

In 2001, Canada had 3,145 non-fatal workplace injuries per 100,000 workers, the fourth highest of the 16 countries. France was the highest with 4,432 and Britain was the lowest with 645. The study cautions that the “surprising” large range can be attributed to differences between countries in the national definitions of an injury.

Canada’s rate of injuries fell 18.3 per cent, the same as Britain, between 1980 and 2001. Six other countries had greater success in reducing work-related injuries, including Switzerland, which saw injuries plunge 39.3 per cent.

Andrew Sharpe, an economist and co-author of the report, said Canada’s poor performance can be linked to the large proportion of workers employed in natural resources such as logging and mining.

“There’s a higher incidence of accidents, for example, in logging than in services,” Sharpe told

CanWest News Service.

He said it’s not a “total disaster” for Canada, because it’s comparing itself to some of the best countries, but it shows the country has room for improvement when it comes to workplace safety.

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