Recent Construction Deaths Leave Room For Improvement for Industry


A number of recent incidents have put the spotlight on the Calgary construction industry and the conditions that workers operate under. Since the start of November five workers have died at job sites across Alberta, and these recent fatalities have now put 2014's total ahead of last year's with one month still to go. In this blog we'll look at some these incidents and discuss some of the ways the construction industry needs to improve worker safety.

If your job is in the Calgary construction industry, then the five fatalities that occurred this November will have hit home. 2014 has now surpassed 2013 for number of workplace deaths, and with a month to go the current total of 21 could still increase. The sheer number of incidents in November have put the spotlight on how worker safety is dealt with in Alberta and the province's construction industry has a lot of questions to answer.

How did these fatalities occur?

Two of these fatalities occurred on construction sites in and around Calgary. Here is a short description of each.

  1. On November 4th, a 60 year older worker died after being hit by a front-end loader on a farm near Raymond, AB.
  2. On November 17th, a worker installing a sewer line in Calgary died after being hit by machinery.
  3. On November 20th, a 60 year old man working on a job in Calgary was killed when the wall he was dismantling collapsed on him.
  4. On November 21st, a worker died after falling five metres in St. Albert.
  5. On November 25th, on a construction site near Carseland, a 63 year old worker was killed after being hit by a dislodged concrete block.

What should the industry be doing to prevent these incidents?

It is clear to everyone that this number of incidents, especially in such a short period of time, is simply unacceptable. Public figures all over Alberta, such as Greg Clark, Alberta Party Leader, have expressed their discontent at the situation: “The number of fatalities is shocking and shameful [...] we cannot have economic growth at the expense of people's lives.”

The cause of these accidents does not seem to be a lack of legislation, but more a lack of legislation adherence. Albertan Politician David Eggen agrees with this sentiment, and adds: “Clearly we're at a point where additional enforcement is not enough. We need to start busting some of the delinquent businesses and make an example out of them because the rate of injury and workplace death is spiralling out of control.”

As Eggen argues, the problem lies with the companies that are cutting corners at the expense of their employees. By stamping out this kind of attitude and business, the industry can protect its workers and continue growing without sacrificing the safety of the people who make things happen.

How does Matrix handle worker safety?

At Matrix, employee safety and quality of life are integral to our company. We know that without happy, healthy and positively minded workers, our company can't provide our excellent services and so working conditions will always be a priority at our company. After racking up 300 hours working at Matrix you'll receive our employee benefits plan, which covers 50% of health bills. Construction site safety is taken care of in part by Matrix's use of OEX TraX, a technology that allows for the paper-free organization and documentation of occupational health and safety. As Matrix President and CEO Shannon Warren says:

“Safety is at the nucleus of our business priorities. We’re very excited about being one of the pioneering shops to use OEX TraX. It really ties everything together. Everything happens real time - safety meetings are documented, time cards and incident reports are dynamically updated, vehicle assessments have a lot more detail (damage reports, photos, videos, etc.) - the system demands transparency and accountability.”

Bottom Line

The string of fatal workplace accidents that occurred throughout the month of November are a clear sign that something must change in order to protect those working and looking for jobs in the Calgary construction industry. The extensive legislations already in place suggest that the problem lies in the adherence to these safety protocols and the increase in workplace deaths since last year should be a wake up call to anyone still unconvinced of the importance of occupational health and safety standards. At Matrix we take pride in the fact that worker safety and adherence to protocol lie at the core of our business model, and we strongly encourage other companies, and their workers, to do the same.

For more information, contact Matrix Labour Leasing or 403-201-9520.

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