Is your workplace safe?

This week there was a lot of talk about safety at work.

The mine rescue competition on the weekend showcased some of the work done to keep mine workers safe, or at least how they are rescued when things go wrong. Finning held a barbecue, celebrating their excellent track record in safety, and an inspiring video about Mike Rousselle’s return to work following a terrible accident at work, was doing the rounds.

Last year, 149 workers in British Columbia died as a result of a workplace injury or illness. Eighty-six workers died of diseases, most of which are related to asbestos exposures; 41 workers died from traumatic workplace injuries; and 22 in work-related motor vehicle incidents.

Of course, the risks you face at work increase dramatically if you work in a high-risk industry. More than three quarters of work-related fatalities last year were in four industries: manufacturing (35); construction (33); transportation and warehousing (28); and primary resources (20).

Working in mining and construction might be more dangerous than working in a office, but people can be injured in all work places and employees and employers in all environments should take work safety seriously.

Thankfully, work safety is taken more seriously and has come a long way since 1919, when it was concerned radical that a law was passed that meant all businesses with more than 10 workers were required to maintain a first aid kit on site.

If nothing else, companies should want to keep their workers healthy to keep their finances healthy.

Costs associated with incidents, including lost costs, worker’s comp claims, insurance costs and legal fees are minimized in a safe work environment. So are the indirect costs that follow incidents, including the lost productivity that occurs when people turn their attention to dealing with an incident.

Not only that, a safe work environment boosts employee morale, which, in turn, increases productivity, efficiency and profit margins.

Most importantly, employers have an obligation to send their workers home in the same condition they came in. But employees should also have the knowledge and rights to refuse to do a job under dangerous conditions.

We all need to make money. But nobody should have to risk their life or limb to do it.