The construction industry continues to set the bar for work deaths in the province — 51 were reported last year by Workers’ Compensation Board-Alberta, up from 42 in 2015. Liberal Leader David Swann blames a lax safety culture for the overall problem, saying that “virtually every injury incident is preventable.” That appears to be the case in at least eight of the worksite deaths where employees fell from roofs, trailers or scaffolding. With myriad safety harnesses and rigging available to workers, no one should be left unhooked on a job site. Is it a case of expediency on the part of the employee or the employer? Thinking it’ll never happen to them? Safety should never be a second thought. Alberta has resources at hand to deal with the troubling trend. The province has increased health and safety inspections by more than a third and has been targeting high-risk industries. Repeat offenders can be handed penalties or prosecuted, and those have risen from 11 to 18 in 2016. But it shouldn’t have to get to that point. Safety inspectors have the latitude to hand out tickets on-the-spot, with fines ranging from $100 to $500 for lapses such as failing to wear fall prevention gear or keeping a worksite free from slip hazards.
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