TORONTO — The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is calling for immediate action including a panel of inquiry to investigate and stop workers’ deaths on construction sites and other workplaces across Ontario.
A Dec. 18 statement referred to the deaths of four construction workers within a week and also an industrial incident in Hamilton Dec. 17 that claimed the life of a waste management worker. An additional death of a traffic signaller at a construction site in Toronto Dec. 17 brought the total number of fatalities in the two sectors to six since Dec. 11.
“While we mourn the lives that were lost, and hope the workers who were injured recover quickly, we demand immediate action to stop workers’ deaths on construction sites, and in every workplace across Ontario,” stated the release.
“The (Doug) Ford government must immediately take action to improve protections for workers on construction sites. Workers must be guaranteed their safety and well-being is the primary concern and focus,” said OFL president Patty Coates. “This recent string of tragedies makes it clear that we must do more to protect Ontario workers. We demand urgent action by this government.”
After the Metron Construction Christmas Eve tragedy in 2009 in which four workers died, the OFL launched a campaign for better protections for workers. In response to the Metron tragedy, the provincial government created an Expert Panel on Workplace Health and Safety and launched a province-wide review that resulted in significant amendments to Ontario laws designed to prevent future tragedies.
The OFL is calling on the provincial government to strike another expert panel, the statement said, and immediately launch a targeted health and safety enforcement blitz.
“Similar urgent action is once again required,” said Coates. “We must redouble efforts to ensure that every worker is protected through robust health and safety measures and beefed-up protocols and procedures.”