Workplace Safety Minister signals upcoming focus on preventing injuries at small workplaces

The province will be reaching out to small companies, like roofers, in an effort to reduce workplace injuries.
The province will be reaching out to small companies, like roofers, in an effort to reduce workplace injuries. File/Global News

Saturday, April 28 is the National Day of Mourning. It’s a time to remember those who were killed or injured on the job. In Saskatchewan, 27 people died from workplace related injuries or illnesses in 2017.

Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said workplace injuries have been reduced by 50 per cent over the last decade, but there is still more safety work to do.

“Over the last year or so we had targeted intervention where we were focusing on workplaces that had higher injury rates,” Morgan said. “We worked with larger employers and have had really good success in driving down their injury rates.”

READ MORE: April 28 deemed National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed on the job

Now, the ministry has signaled that it is time to start focusing on reaching out to smaller employers. Morgan used roofers as an example, as a company that may only have three or five employees and there is a high injury risk.

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“You drive around and you see things that are infractions. We encourage everybody, use the safety equipment that’s there, work with your employer, learn how to use it, take every step that you can to ensure you’re safe,” Morgan said.

“It’s easy to say it’s the responsibility of an employer, it’s the responsibility of everyone that’s on a work site.”

In Saskatchewan, over 80 per cent of Occupational Health and Safety inspections are unannounced checks. In the last fiscal year, there were 3,985 workplace inspections. A majority, 2,341, were targeted, 608 were random and 1,036 were reactive. These reactive investigations were triggered by situations like an employee complaint.

READ MORE: Workplace injuries declining in Saskatchewan

Instances where these inspections are announced ahead of time include when requested by an employer or if the worksite is restricted.

Examples the ministry provided of a restricted worksite are those in the far north or places where travel is required.

“What they’re trying to do is target the interventions where, and they’re often unannounced visits, where there is a bad record in the past or it’s a workplace type that would have potential for higher injuries,” Morgan said.