Nick Lalonde, just 23 years old, fell to his death at a job site on King Street in Waterloo on Oct. 11.
The company he worked for, Maison Canada, had been cited nine times for safety violations, yet the unsafe work environment was allowed to continue until the tragic accident.
Since then, 17 work orders for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act have been issued to the company.
In New Brunswick in 2011, a 17-year-old part-time Wal-Mart employee named Patrick Desjardins was electrocuted while operating a floor polisher in the store’s garage.
It was later revealed that the polisher had been purchased from a yard sale, and had never been inspected before being put to use.
Why is this sort of disregard for the safety of workers allowed to continue?
In 2011, Ontario alone had 306 deaths in the workplace. Over the past decade, Canada as a whole has lost roughly 12,000 workers. That’s more than three fatal accidents per day.
And that’s not even including the number of time-loss injuries suffered by Ontario workers; in 2011 alone, a staggering 56,672 people couldn’t work.
The fact is that the majority of these injuries and deaths are caused by unsafe work environments, and too often these tragedies are preventable. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Canada, it is legally your right to refuse work that you deem unsafe; whether it’s using a ladder with no rubber soles on it in a walk-in freezer, or climbing several storeys on rickety pieces of wood and metal without a harness.
You cannot be punished for refusing to work, rather it is the employer who will be punished under the act for pressuring you to perform a task that is unsafe.
Whether you’re a full-time employee or a part-timer like Desjardins, you should never have to fear doing part of your job.
If you’re concerned about safety in your workplace, you can brush up on the Occupational Health and Safety Act at www.worksmartontario.gov.on.ca.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.