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Working Wise: Making Workplaces Safer

Dear Working Wise,

One of my co-workers was seriously injured at work recently and so I was just wondering how common it is to get hurt at work. Who’s supposed to be keeping employees safe?
Signed, Who’s Responsible

May 3, 2017

Dear Who’s Responsible,

Who is responsible for keeping workers safe? The short answer is, everyone. That sounds like an easy answer, but the fact is that we all have a critical role to play.

  • Government passes legislation and codes that set standards for what employers and employees can do on the job.
  • Employers train their workers and set policies that keep workers safe.
  • Employees take training, follow safe practices, and watch out for their co-workers.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety investigates workplace incidents to help prevent future similar injuries and holds employers responsible.

In 2016, there were 18 OHS convictions resulting in more than $1.8 million in penalties.

The Alberta government promotes safer workplaces through education, free online training, helpful tips and public awareness campaigns, including: Work Right, Work Safe Alberta, Before It’s An Injury, Bloody Lucky, and Where’s The Line. All of these resources are available on the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety website.

Workplaces are getting safer. Alberta’s lost-time claim rate has fallen steadily over the past decade from 2.24 in 2006 to 1.25 in 2016. The lost-time rate is the number of employees who had to miss work due to injuries for every 100 person-years worked.

 

The most common causes of injuries and deaths in the workplace are

  • 20% are struck by an object like a swinging pipe or falling equipment
  • 15% fall from roofs, ladders, scaffolding or down elevator shafts
  • 12% are caught by an object or machinery, e.g., a glove caught in a lathe
  • 12% are vehicle accidents, including quads and equipment rollovers, etc.
  • 10% are exposed to harmful substances like electricity or hydrogen sulfide gas

You can see the complete list of workplace injury and fatality statistics on the OHS website.

The Government of Alberta also partners with a wide array of industry associations and employers to promote safer workplaces. The OHS site also contains a complete list of partners in injury reduction.

This includes supporting North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. The goal of NAOSH week is to raise awareness about preventing workplace injuries and remind everyone that safety is a shared responsibility between government, employers and workers.

We all share the same goal: we want every Albertans return home safely at the end of every work day.

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto\BartCo

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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