The Government of British Columbia has proclaimed May 1-7, 2016, as North American Occupational Safety and Health Week in B.C. and encourages employers and workers to get involved by planning an event or activity around this year’s theme – make safety a habit.
The North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is an annual, continent-wide event where employers, workers and all partners in occupational health and safety collaborate to promote injury and illness prevention in the workplace. It is marked by a 1997 agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, dedicating the first week in May each year to focus on occupational health and safety.
Throughout British Columbia, NAOSH Week events and activities are being co-ordinated by local, provincial and regional committees – often by volunteers – who share a focus and vision of safer workplaces and communities. The naosh.ca website has information, resources and activity ideas, and links to events in communites across Canada and in B.C.
One of the NAOSH Week partners, the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support, known as Threads of Life, is holding two Steps for Life Walks in B.C. – one in Prince George and another in Vancouver on May 1. All funds raised during the walks assist Threads of Life to provide programs and services for Canadian families who have suffered as a result of a workplace tragedy.
Threads of Life received a $10,000 sponsorship from WorkSafeBC to help them with their Steps for Life Walks and further their work in helping families impacted by workplace tragedy.
Workplace health and safety is a priority for the B.C. government, and legislative improvements have been made to strengthen WorkSafeBC’s ability to enforce occupational health and safety regulations and ensure a world-class inspection and enforcement regime.
The Government of British Columbia, Encana Corporation and the Ending Violence Association of B.C. have formed a unique partnership to create and recently launch a new training video that brings the successful “Be More Than a Bystander” campaign aimed at ending violence against women to the resource industry.
Working with WorkSafeBC, the Government of British Columbia has made addressing health and safety in the workplace a priority.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –
“All of us must remain vigilant to ensure worker safety is a top priority at every worksite so everyone who leaves for work in the morning comes home safely at the end of the day.”
“Whether you participate in a Steps for Life Walk or hold a workplace safety-themed event, NAOSH Week provides a great opportunity for employers and workers to practise making safety a habit by focusing on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.”
Al Johnson, vice-president, Prevention Field Services, WorkSafeBC –
“NAOSH Week gives us the opportunity to again focus and re-dedicate ourselves to making our workplaces the safest and healthiest they can be. Through the hard work of workers, employers, unions, safety associations and other groups, workplaces are safer today than at any point in our history, but men and women are still being seriously injured and even dying from their work and that just shouldn’t happen. We must all continue to pay attention to making health and safety Job One on every worksite in the province.”
Workplace injury and illness statistics in B.C.:
- In 2015 there were 122 work-related deaths – of those, 50 were due to traumatic injury and 72 were the result of occupational disease, mainly from exposure to asbestos years ago.
- The gender breakdown of the 122 work-related deaths is 115 males and seven females.
- Workplace injury and illness resulted in nearly 2.6 million lost days of work.
- There has been a general decline in deaths due to traumatic injuries over the past 20 years.
- The work-related death rate has dropped by over 61% – from 13 deaths in 1990 to approximately five per 100,000 workers in 2015.
- Equally important – the average provincial injury rate has dropped by 65% to the lowest rate on record.
- Currently there are about 2.3 injuries per 100 person-years of employment – down from 6.6 injuries per 100 person-years of employment in 1990.
- Workers have the right to refuse any work they think is unsafe.
North American Occupational Safety and Health Week website: www.naosh.org/english/
More information on Threads of Life and their Steps For Life walks: http://stepsforlife.ca/
Check out what other organizations are doing for NAOSH Week: www.naosh.org/english/events/british_columbia.html
Find event and activity ideas for your organization: www.naosh.org/english/resources/events_suggestions.html
Find our more about WorkSafeBC and how to participate in NAOSH Week: www.worksafebc.com/news_room/campaigns/naosh_week/
View the B.C. government NAOSH Week proclamation: www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/oic/OIC_CUR/NAmOccupSafetyHlthWk2016