Brampton Fatalities Serve as Chilling Reminder that No Workplace Tragedy is an “Accident” Until Employer Negligence is Ruled Out

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Brampton Fatalities Serve as Chilling Reminder that No Workplace Tragedy is an “Accident” Until Employer Negligence is Ruled Out

(BRAMPTON, ON) ─ Two workplace fatalities at separate sites in Brampton put a pall on workers and family members across Ontario. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is calling on local law enforcement to launch criminal investigations into both tragedies before declaring them “accidents.”

“Years ago, police started referring to motor vehicle collisions as ‘incidents’ instead of ‘accidents.’ It is a subtle but important change that indicates an entirely different approach to investigating the cause of a tragedy. Accidents have no apparent or deliberate cause, but crimes are reckless or willful and carry stiff punishments,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “The police must take the same approach to industrial incidents; treating each workplace tragedy as a potential crime scene and investigating it to determine whether employer negligence was a factor. After all, when criminal negligence results in a worker’s death, it is a crime, not an accident.”

In separate incidents in Brampton on May 10, a “boom-lift-type vehicle” crushed a worker at a new housing development and a lawn-cutting machine rolled over a worker at a golf course. Incidents like these are all too frequent across Canada. In Ontario alone, 226 workers reportedly lost their lives in 2015 due to workplace tragedies or occupational disease. Roughly 230,000 Ontario workers are injured or made sick at work every year, thousands of others pass away years later due to resulting health complications, and still other cases, undoubtedly, go unreported or unacknowledged. It is a situation that has left the OFL calling for a radical transformation in the police response to workplace tragedies.

“It is too soon to speculate about what caused these terrible deaths in Brampton, but it is a grim reminder that every worker who is killed on the job deserves the full attention of the law,” said Buckley. “The families of every fallen worker deserve to know the police have done more than rule out foul play. They must investigate employer negligence as a possible cause. The carnage in our workplaces will never stop until negligent bosses are marched out of their executive offices in handcuffs.”

“Our hearts go out to the families of these two workers,” said Buckley. “Every worker who heads off to work at the start of a shift, deserves to return home safe and sound to their family at the end of a day.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.

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For further information:

Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 or jduff@ofl.ca

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