OHS Canada Magazine

More than 150 B.C. workers were killed on the job in 2020

63 fatalities due to traumatic injury; 88 due to occupational disease


In 2020, 151 workers in B.C. died from a workplace injury or disease. (OHS Canada)

By Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

MERRITT HERALD

British Columbians continue to face workplace related injury, disease and death at a concerning rate.

B.C.’s 2019 workplace death rate reached more than 200 deaths, tying for the previous high of 203 fatalities, a record high set in 2014.

In 2020, 151 workers in B.C. died from a workplace injury or disease — 63 were fatalities due to traumatic injury and 88 were fatalities due to occupational disease.

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According to WorkSafeBC, people in B.C. missed 3.2 million days of work in 2019 due to workplace related disease and incidents.

In 2019, there were 5,440 claims of a mental disorder which resulted work-related stress, such as harassment, workplace bullying or as a reaction to a traumatic event, a stark reminder that not all injuries suffered in the workplace are physical.

Of all those injured on the job, 59 per cent were male and 41 per cent were female. The average age of workers injured on the job was 42; 13 per cent were under the age of 25 and 22 per cent were over the age of 55.

Deaths are broken down in B.C. by sector, with general construction claiming, by far, the highest number of lives, with 30 deaths in 2019. This was followed by 25 deaths in transportation and warehousing, 24 in manufacturing, and 21 in public administration.

In primary resource industries, forestry was the deadliest sector, claiming eight lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought another hazard into the workplace, and employers must be diligent in following all health and safety protocols, including increased cleaning and sanitization, and measures which allow for physical distancing wherever possible.

“WorkSafeBC has the responsibility to enforce health and safety rules at workplaces. It is the No. 1 priority that they have,” said BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains.

“Workers have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. They have the right to orientation and training, and the right to refuse unsafe work. Every workplace incident requires an investigation to determine causes and how to prevent future incidents from occurring. These are rights provided to workers through our health and safety legislation and regulations.”