New data from the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration shows that in 2022, 24 people died in workplace-related incidents.
“Each fatality represents a family and a community that’s kind of lost someone special, and our hearts always go out to them on that,” says Occupational Health and Safety Division Executive Director Fred Jeffers.
“The incidents are a stark reminder each year of the importance for everyone to take responsibility and do their part to contribute.”
Of the 24 deaths, nine Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job and 15 fatalities were classified as chronic.
Of the chronic deaths, eight were related to occupational diseases stemming from past exposure and seven were caused by health-related issues that happened at work, but may or may not be related to the workplace.
“We need to do a better job of making sure that our workplaces are safe, so everybody comes home at the end of the day,” says Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh.
He says that, “Whether it’s 20 or whether it’s five or whether it’s one, it needs to be zero.”
WCB Nova Scotia Interim CEO Shelley Rowan says in situations where something went terribly wrong, that’s where we learn.
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“At a workplace level, at an industry level, at a leadership level,” she says. “To see what are the things that we can do to be different, to make sure that something like this never happens again.”
Jeffers says he wants to make sure everyone understand that they have the right to know their risks at work and to speak out and ask questions.
“Sometimes I know that it’s easy for us all to get a little complacent in what we do everyday,” Jeffers says. “I think that it’s really important for folks to all make sure that safety at work should be number one priority for everyone.”
Looking to the future, Rowan says she’s hopeful in the efforts being made to address workplace safety.
“Workplaces are taking workplace safety much more seriously, or seriously in a different way than they did years ago. And thinking about what are the hazards and trying to address those.”