There have to be consequences

Cameron Don
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There has been progress, but the number of deaths and injuries on the job in this province is simply unacceptable.
That's a message the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour wants to get across - to the public and government - as it reviews a grim set of statistics in the past year.
Federation president Rick Clarke, who grew up in Springhill, spoke last Wednesday about the vast number of deaths in the workplace, and the many injuries that should be preventable. On the last observance of the National Day of Mourning, last April, the total for the year in Nova Scotia was 29, the greatest number since Westray, and 32,000 were injured.
There was a workplace death just weeks ago. In an account of the past year, Clarke listed some of the poor practices that led to deaths - including the unloading of goods at night where lighting was inadequate.
Clarke makes reference to the Westray explosion in Plymouth in 1992, in which 26 miners were killed.
That was one incident, with the consequence of many lives, he notes, but the province has passed that total in the span of a year since then - that's both lamentable and preventable with the right legislation in place.
Companies and their owners need to be held accountable for failing to have measures in place to prevent deaths and injuries. Fines don't necessarily perform that duty -- in fact, it can be seen simply as a cost of doing business.
Until there are serious consequences and the enforcement of laws, workers will be risking their lives.
The reference to Westray - it rings loud and clear across the country as being among the most devastating workplace losses in recent memory.
The rallying cry after that as worker groups called for tougher regulations was "no more Westrays." The staggering total of 29 deaths in a year is still the sorrow of a Westray, simply spread out a step at a time. Death by a thousand cuts is still death.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Westray, Springhill, Nova Scotia Plymouth

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