“Why are serious injuries and deaths that occur at a workplace treated differently than those occurring elsewhere?” asks Pictou County Injured Workers’ Association president Mary Lloyd.
“An incident occurring outside the workplace results in police securing the scene and investigating to determine if foul play or criminal activity is involved. However, a workplace incident involves, for example, the police responding to a 911 call but handing over the investigation to Labour Department officials.”
The “Westray Bill”, an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada in 2004, established new legal duties for workplace health and safety and imposed serious penalties for violations that result in injuries or death. Corporations and their representatives and those who direct the work of others could face criminal liability under the legislative amendment. However, only a handful of prosecutions have been successful under the legislation since the Bill was enacted on March 31, 2004.
The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reports that 305 workers in Nova Scotia and 13,468 workers in Canada died due to workplace incidents and occupational exposures between 2004 and 2017. The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia reports 40 workplace fatalities occurred in the Province in 2018.
“A worksite that is the scene of a serious injury or death should be treated as a crime scene until a police investigation rules out criminal activity.” states Lloyd. “Perhaps the reason for so few prosecutions and miniscule convictions is due to the fact the evidence necessary to prove a criminal offense has occurred has been so contaminated at the unsecured scene that a conviction is impossible.”
The annual National Day of Mourning ceremony for those killed or injured as the result of workplace accidents will be held Sunday April 28 at 6 p.m. at Trenton Park.
The ceremony is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.