#55 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Four: Skeleton Shift

One of the ads that fucking haunts me to this day is a PSA that played on Canadian television back in the 1990s. It featured a woman carrying a pot of boiling oh-shit and slipping, pouring the oh-shit all over herself and subsequently screaming as her skin boils. Stay safe, kids! Speaking of safety, Canada has a bit of a problem with workplace safety. There are approximately 1000 reported deaths on the job every year in Canada, with the word “reported” being very important because the actual number of workplace fatalities could be much, much higher. Indeed, employers are known to suppress workplace injury claims; the numbers could be as much as 50% off because caker business would rather ignore problems than deal with them. Never mind the suppression of evidence though, because in Cakerstan if you can’t see things it means they aren’t real!

The last sentence there is literally true of some of Canada’s most dangerous jobs. Take logging, the most dangerous job in Canada according to the Globe and Mail. It may come as a surprise to the caker meme factory, but most Canadians do not experience any facet of the logging industry directly on a day-to-day basis. Same for the fishing industry. The human truck driver behind the machine isn’t often seen by those driving by (who are hopefully focusing on the road, and the same applies for garbage collection and power line installers. Because these jobs aren’t seen, mitigating the dangers incumbent to the task is left up to caker business.

(S) Pretty much

And how reliable, pray tell, is caker business? Well, here’s an oilsands giant getting fined $10,000(!!!) for failing to use appropriate contractors on their construction projects. What’s that? You think I was missing a few zeroes on that fine? Nope! $10k is apparently good enough recompense for killing two and injuring five!! And who knows what kind of justice came for the people on this list, whose deaths often sound truly horrific. And of course you’ve got a higher chance of injury as a temp worker. Really puts Bill Morneau’s “get used to it” comment into focus, no?

At the very least Canada has decided to do the bare minimum in terms of data collection on labor safety! In 2017! Reading that article reveals the amazing extent to which the federal government has absolved itself of responsibility for Canadian workers. Which leads to amazing efforts like the caker businesses currently over-building Saskatoon failing to enforce proper safety equipment on nearly 50% of construction sites. Manitoba’s punishment for six incidents of workplace danger, including a guy being lit on fire because his employer didn’t bother with basic safety, was a collective $111,000 fine. And speaking of not wanting to take this problem seriously, here’s Newfoundland referring to the worker death probe for a man who fell through a skylight as “completely inadequate“. Across the entire country, only five employers have even gone to prison for their role in destroying lives and families. When your major safety accomplishments include not using a lift that previously killed workers you probably need some kind of intervention. Golly, maybe we could have caught that one sooner?

Even though the 1000/year figure sounds reasonable for a country of 35,000,000, it’s pretty clear that the deaths happen away from public eyes, with limited oversight or even basic care from employers and a governmental system that fails at every turn. With data so unreliable, employers who can bully people into skewing what limited data exists in ways more favorable to the company, a predisposition to treating the most vulnerable workers in Canada with the greatest contempt, and a population that hides problems behind numbers, the story behind showcases a culture of disregard and despair.

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