REGINA – Although down from a record-setting 60 fatalities in 2012, 35 workers died as a result of a workplace injury last year.
A ceremony was held in front of city hall Monday afternoon honouring the people who lost their lives. Their names were also read aloud in the legislature.
“The only acceptable number is zero so we know we have more work to do,” said labour minister Don Morgan.
In addition, 14 people working in the farming industry were also killed but the provincial stats don’t track that sector.
“It’s difficult in the agriculture sector to determine who’s an employer and who’s an employee when you have family farms,” said Morgan.
Saskatchewan continues to have the second highest work injury rate in Canada.
The head of the Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board (WCB) believes our province is playing catch up when it comes to adjusting our attitudes and that extends beyond the workplace.
“I think it’s because we’ve just for too long excepted that there’s things that just happen. That safety takes the fun out of life and it’s just not true,” said Peter Federko, CEO of the WCB. “Saskatchewan actually has the worst record in the country in terms of overall unintentional injuries.”
Eleven of the 35 deaths are linked to asbestos exposure, which is down from 14 in 2012.
Saskatchewan was the first province to enact an asbestos registry last year but the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour wants the mandatory reporting requirement extended to include private buildings.
“Workers when they’re exposed to asbestos, there’s no safe limit of exposure and so workers need to know if they’re going into a workplace that has asbestos that they need to protect themselves,” said Hubich.