Vehicles to blame for 6 in 10 work-related incident fatalities

Vehicles to blame for 6 in 10 work-related incident fatalities
REUTERS/Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva
Vehicles account for 60 per cent of worker incident fatalities — which excludes diseases — across Canada, according to a data analysis by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
Over the 13-year period that was studied (2001-13), highway, motorized vehicles were the source of 44 per cent of these fatalities, followed by air vehicles at 10 per cent. Other types of vehicles that caused fatalities were plant and industrial powered vehicles, rail vehicles and water vehicles.

Linda Clarke and Claudette Fedoruk, health and safety analysts at CAPP, presented the findings at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering’s annual conference in Vancouver on Monday.

Clarke and Fedoruk collected data from the Association of Worker Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) from 134 industries and all 10 provinces and two territories. After filtering out the industries that could in no way be related to the oil and gas industry, such as retail and residential construction, there were 2,126 fatalities during 2001-13.

It’s important to note the data does not include Ontario (the researchers were unsuccessful in their request to get this information from the AWCBC or the provincial Workplace Safety and Insurance Board). There is another hole in the data set, as they were also unsuccessful in getting information from 2001-07 for Alberta.

The researchers looked at fatalities by occupation group and found 73 per cent of those fatalities are in the trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations.

“Those are the guys doing that heavy field work out there,” said Fedoruk.

When it comes to the nature of the injury, traumatic injuries and disorders from accidents fatalities are decreasing slightly, meanwhile, neoplasms, tumours and cancers, and systematic diseases and disorders are increasing. The percentage of those fatalities from neoplasms, tumours and cancers has increased by 386 per cent since 2001.

“It’s the understanding and the knowledge, and what’s accepted now as a work-related fatality by the WCBs,” said Fedoruk.

The biggest cause of disease fatalities is non-metallic minerals (80 per cent) with asbestos being the biggest culprit.

And disease fatalities were the most common among those workers aged 65 and over.

“It makes sense because of the latency period,” said Fedoruk.

The data analysis is still a work in progress, but Fedoruk and Clarke plan to write up a report with recommendations when they are complete.

A big discussion that erupted during the session was the lack of data standardization among workers’ compensation boards across the country.

“The WCBs haven’t gotten together like other industries, even the insurance industry, to standardize all their data so they are looking at the same set,” one delegate said. “We have been going at this for at least 25 to 30 years to get them to agree upon information they provide.”

Even the coding is different among jurisdictions, delegates noted, and some workers are not as diligent in ensuring proper coding as others.