On average, serious injuries occur far more often - three times more, in fact, according to WorkSafeBC - in construction than any other industry of BC. Last year alone, there were over 7,700 injuries reported in the construction industry.
In early 2018, WorkSafeBC released its Construction High Risk Strategy, a three-year plan to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities from occupational diseases. The plan identified three key areas of focus:
- partnering with industry associations and alliances to develop and deliver educational opportunities, resources and communications strategies promoting workplace health and safety
- identifying the tools, equipment or processes that will help lower incidents of injury at workplaces
- employing WorkSafeBC officers to conduct inspections at work sites for health and safety planning and supervision, and educate keystakeholders to avoid unsafe conditions and practices
For 2019, WorkSafeBC has identified three additional areas of focus, addressing the biggest and emerging causes of injury and death in construction:
Asbestos is still the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Although the import, export, manufacture, sale and use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products is now banned across Canada, workers who were exposed decades ago could just be experiencing the effects now. The deadly material was commonly used in construction for decades and those doing any work on older buildings that predate the 1990s are at risk of exposure.
Falls from heights
Falls are the leading cause of serious injuries in construction. This year, WorkSafeBC will target falls from elevation in residential construction, by working with with prime contractors and general contractors on the proper installation and use of roof anchors.
Risks associated with crane operations is an emerging concern. As building density increases, cranes are being operated in closer proximity to other cranes, equipment and structures, increasing the risk for dangerous work conditions and incidents.
For more information on the Construction High Risk Strategy and the 2019 priorities, please see "Industry Voices Op-Ed: Reducing the risk of serious injury within the construction industry" and WorkSafeBC's official Construction High Risk Strategy webpage.