Quebec fails to reduce the number of fatal work accidents. The most recent data from the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) shows that 69 workers lost their lives in 2022, compared to 57 in 2020 and 60 in 2021.
The latest data on fatal accidents are disappointing because, in the mid-2010s, the situation had improved. Their number, which had risen to 80 in 2016, had fallen to 57 in 2019 and 2020. In 2022, it rose to 69. In addition, 147 people died as a result of an occupational disease, for a total of 216 deaths. It should be noted that the majority of deaths due to disease are caused by exposure to asbestos. According to the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ), 57 of the 216 deaths are related to the construction industry.
The number of non-fatal work accidents has literally exploded in Quebec. It rose from 109,864 in 2021 to 149,812 in 2022, an increase of 36%. The big boss? COVID-19. Indeed, if we remove the infections caused by SARS-CoV-2, the total number of accidents increases from 82,286 in 2021 to 82,610 in 2022. “The majority of COVID-19 injuries were recorded in the fifth wave , in early 2022,” says Antoine Leclerc, media relations advisor at the CNESST. “We can expect that to go down in 2023.”
At a time when the Quebec government wants to pass a law to regulate child labor, by establishing the legal age for employment at 14, CNESST data show a significant increase in accidents among young people from under 16 for five years. There were 85 reported accidents in this age category in 2018, compared to 154 in 2019, 148 in 2020, 202 in 2021, and 205 in 2022. The increase could be partly explained by the increase in the number of young people on the market work.
Unsurprisingly, men are the main victims of work-related deaths. Of 226 cases in 2018, there were 2 women. They were 8 out of 190 victims in 2019, 11 out of 173 in 2020, 9 out of 207 in 2021, and 5 out of 216 in 2022. Alarmed by the situation, the FTQ, the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Central Trade Unions of Quebec (CSQ) and the Central of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD) “urge the government to adequately protect workers”.
These data were published on Friday April 28 by the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) on the Day of Mourning.
“Occupational injuries do not only affect the victims, recalls the Commission in a press release. They also affect their relatives, their colleagues and their employer. »
The Day of Mourning is celebrated in more than 70 countries in memory of the victims of an accident at work or an occupational disease.
According to the FTQ-Construction, 57 of the 216 workers who died in 2022 worked in the construction industry. Among these 57 victims, 13 had an accident at work and 44 died following an illness.
“Construction ranks first of all industries for illnesses and accidents,” the union said in a statement. Asbestos remains the leading cause of death for construction workers. »
The FTQ-Construction hopes that the changes brought about by the reform of the Health and Safety Act “will change the culture”. “The introduction of health and safety representatives will allow us to have more people to intervene and speak on behalf of the safety of workers on construction sites,” said health and safety manager, Simon Lévesque.
The Federation of Workers of Quebec (FTQ), the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Central Trade Unions of Quebec (CSQ) and the Central of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD) also published a press release to mark the Day of Mourning and urge the Government of Quebec “to adequately protect workers”.
Along with activists, union leaders rallied outside the prime minister’s office on Friday in memory of the victims.
“The portrait continues to worsen because there is no real prevention in the workplace, they denounced. Indeed, nearly 85% of workers do not have access to adequate prevention mechanisms to enable them to take charge of health and safety in their workplace. It is clear that the latest legislative changes have not improved the situation. It’s time for that to change and we won’t let go! »