Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Occupy WCB video

Here is some video from Day 1 of the Occupy WCB protest in Edmonton.

The organizers suggest that this is the start of a longer-term campaign and an interesting linkage of social movements (injured workers, occupy and the raging grannies).

So far, media coverage has been limited to radio coverage.

-- Bob Barnetson

Steps for Life Walk, Edmonton, May 5

Threads of Life is a not-for-profit that supports families affected by a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease..

Steps for Life is the primary fundraising event for Threads of Life. This annual 5 km walk will beheld in Edmonton at Rundle Park on Saturday, May 5th. For more information on this Steps for Life walk, please contact Tanya Preece at or

On May 1, 2011 more than 4,400 people in 37 communities across Canada walked together to support families affected by workplace tragedies. They walked together to raise awareness about the importance of workplace health and safety and that everyone should return home safe at the end of their work day. More than $333,900 was raised in cash donations.

-- Bob Barnetson

Working People in Alberta

I had the opportunity to attend the launch of Working People in Alberta: A History on Friday. This new book (available as a free download from Athabasca University Press) chronicles the history of Alberta workers and is useful in understanding the dynamics which are present in Alberta labour relations today. It is part of the 2012 project and draws upon material collected by the Alberta Labour History Institute.

As I was surfing around, I also ran across an MA thesis by Jason Devine which traces the impact of the United Mine Workers of America, District 18 on the developing of workers’ compensation in Alberta. This thesis builds upon Devine’s earlier BA honours thesis on UMWA D18 and the One Big Union. .

-- Bob Barnetson

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Injured worker protest tomorrow

It appears there will be a protest by injured workers across the street from the Edmonton Workers’ Compensation Building from February 29 to March 2. The Alberta Chapter of the Injured Workers of Canada have teamed up with Occupy Edmonton and the Raging Grannies to highlight what they perceive as flaws in the administration of the workers’ compensation system. You can read their demands on the link above. One of the questions they raise is:
Where is the WCB money that is paid into by employers?
Why are Alberta Taxpayers paying for Injured Workers who have been denied legitimate WCB claims and forced onto AISH, a taxpayer funded social program? WCB cannot displace Injured Worker to AISH leaving Alberta Taxpayers to foot the bills.

This is an interesting question on a couple of levels. First, it links workers’ compensation denials to pressure on other (publicly funded) income support programs. That is to say, injuries that are denied by the WCB don’t simply go away. Rather, the costs associated are often borne by the health system, EI, CPP, welfare and AISH. To the degree that a refusal is illegitimate, this represents a cost transfer from employers to the taxpayer. An interesting research question would be how much of the provincial income support rolls comprise injured workers?

This line of questioning leads us to the issue of long-standing contentious WCB claims. One of the recommendations of the Doerkson review of workers’ compensation (way back in 2000) was that the province:
Establish a one time independent tribunal with the authority to arbitrate and resolve, through settlement, long standing contentious claims.

My sense of this is that there was, at that time, a desire to do something about these claims (which are both unjust and eat up a huge amount of MLA time). This recommendation may also reflect the widespread view during the early 2000s that the WCB did not administer claims fairly. The sawoff would be that costs associated with these files would then not be assessed against employers or industry groups.

The CEO of the WCB at the time was concerned that the costs would be borne by employers via premiums (basically there would be a cost transfer over time between firms). As a result, this recommendation went nowhere, although the government has, in the past, pointed to the greater independence given to the WCB appeals tribunal as the outcome.

If the key issue is money (and isn’t it always?), what might the government do if there was a pot of found money that was adequate to settle these claims? Well, it turns out there was. Last year, mostly through investment windfalls, the WCB ended up with $230.1 million more than it needed to be fully funded. Consistent with their policy, the WCB gave it back (as a special dividend) to employers

In fact, since 2006, the WCB has paid out $1.4 billion in special dividends. The government has argued that these represent overpaid premiums so should go back to employers. The 2011 special dividend was not an overpayment though—it was driven largely by investment windfalls.

So why not use that money to resolve these long-standing claims? It might have taken some effort by the government, but surely that is not impossible. What is more likely is that there is simply no political appetite to address long-standing claims. And this, as much as anything, explains the continuing anger and action of injured workers.

-- Bob Barnetson

Monday, February 27, 2012

OHS charges: why the delay?

I was looking through the government's website on OHS prosecutions for a book chapter I'm writing. One of the things I noticed in the section outlining pending OHS charges are the gap between an offense and being charged.

Without exception, the province does not file charges until two years after the date of incident. If I recall correctly, the OHS Act has a two-year limitations clause. This systematic delay in charging employers may reflect the complexities of the investigation and/or under-resourcing at some point in the investigation or prosecution stages.

Part of the purpose of charging an employer under the OHS Act is to make an example of the employer in the hopes of encouraging other employers to obey the law. This two-year lag seems to undermine this effect--the link between the event, being charged and being convicted is long and tenuous. In fact, completing a prosecution takes an average of 3-4 years.

This suggests a system of ticketing might be a useful interim step. Former Minister of Employment and Immigration Thomas Lukaszuk indicated legislation (i.e., a regulation) allowing this was being drafted back in September. The status of this initiative is unclear, given there is a new minister and nothing has been heard about ticketing in some time.

-- Bob Barnetson

Friday, February 24, 2012

How will the government respond to a teacher strike?

With teacher bargaining stalled out, I’ve had a couple of queries about the possibility of a province-wide teacher strike when the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) contracts expire in August. I think we are some distance from any strike (late autumn or early winter would be my guess) and there is lots of opportunity for a negotiated solution.

But an interesting question is what can and will the government do in the face of a strike or lockout in the K-12 system? I assume there will be lots of public hand wringing (“think of the children!”) even though there is basically zero evidence that even prolonged teacher strikes have any educational impact upon students.

But a strike does create a political emergency because many families rely upon schooling for child care. Closing schools quickly becomes disruptive for families and employers. We saw this public pressure play roles in the 2002 (nearly) province-wide strike and the 2007 Parkland County School District strike. So what can the government do?

Well, assuming the government does not broker a deal with some cash, the government’s first option is to delay the strikes and lockouts by imposing Dispute Inquiry Boards (DIBs) under the Labour Relations Code. A DIB gives a mediator 20 days (or more) to see if a deal can be crafted. If not, the DIB report is put before the parties for a vote. DIBs imposed after the strike or lockout has started do NOT suspend the strike or lockout.

The major downside of using DIBs for the government is that, if the parties accept the DIB report, the government will be under pressure to fund the costs associated with the deal because the government imposed the DIB on the dispute. The parties may, in fact, quietly collude to put the government on the hook this way if the DIB report is half reasonable.

The government could also appoint a high profile mediator to try and settle the dispute. Such a voluntary process gives the parties an opportunity to resolve the disputes while saving face. But one or both sides may see an ongoing strike as a useful tool to loosen provincial purse strings. And they may just be too pissed off at each other to consider mediation so this may be a non-starter.

More importantly, parents may see voluntary mediation as an ineffective response by the government. My own experience answering phones for the government during the Parkland dispute is that parents wanted the strike resolved “right bloody now!” (although most supported the teachers). And my impression was that MLAs were pretty worried about the flack they were getting from constituents for not acting decisively.

Moving on, then, the Labour Relations Code allows the government declare the strikes/lockouts constitute public emergencies, end the work stoppages and impose Public Emergency Tribunals (PETs) to sort out the new contract. The government did this in 2002 and got slapped around by the courts pretty badly because it failed to prove there was an emergency that health or property or caused undue hardship. In 2007, the government shied away from this option, in part because it had no capacity to prove undue hardship and little appetite to repeat Lyle Oberg’s public relations mess of 2002.

The government could also pass back-to-work legislation (as it did in 2002) ending the strike and setting out a dispute resolution process and/or set the terms of the dispute. This will be justified as “protecting the interests of students” but might well face a Charter challenge given the recent SCC ruling that the right to strike is protected under s.2(d) as well as by international law. The question will be whether the state can meet the three-part test to demonstrate that back-to-work legislation was a reasonable infringement on worker rights.

The major risk of back-to-work legislation is that a successful appeal could give rise to more case-law that expands the Charter rights of workers and increases the pressure on the government to align Alberta’s employment laws with Canada’s international treaty obligations. The government of Alberta has historically opposed both of these outcomes (those pesky human rights we agreed to…).

Finally, the government could do nothing. This is politically risky as pressure to act will mount as parents are increasingly inconvenienced. And it gives the Wild Rose (which favours taking away teachers’ right to strike) an issue to crow about. Yet there is an upside: the parties are left to sort out the matter and negotiate an agreement that is workable for both sides. Imposed agreements can result in settlements that are difficult to implement and leave long-standing issues to continue to fester. This simply sets the stage for another dispute a few years down the road.

Anyhow, an interesting set of policy choices for the government in the months ahead. Of course, it could just adequately fund the education system and avoid this issue entirely… .

-- Bob Barnetson

Friday, February 17, 2012

AUPE strike wraps up quickly

Yesterday’s wildcat strike by AUPE support staff workers at roughly 20 facilities ended quickly last night. Details are a bit vague on the settlement but it sounds like the dispute will head to binding arbitration and the employer will not pursue retribution against individual strikers or AUPE. You can hear my CBC interview here.

AUPE is sticking to its story that this was a spontaneous action by workers and that it was caught unawares.

That certainly could be true. Yet a number of folks I’ve talked to are skeptical of claims that no one at the AUPE mothership knew what was going on.

Consider these facts. The strike occurred on the day that AUPE had organized information pickets (basically creating circumstances that could lead to a wildcat strike). The strike spread rapidly to 20 facilities (although social media could explain the speed of the spread). And AUPE was able to quickly get all workers back on the job (a true wildcat is often much more difficult for a union to control).

It certainly looks a bit too organized to be a true wildcat where the membership goes out of control. AUPE has multiple interests in maintaining this story. First, a wildcat strike (where individuals got pissed off and walked out) is a much more sympathetic storyline than the union organizing a strike.

Second, a wildcat suggests that the union didn’t do anything wrong, perhaps delaying the impositions of sanctions. When AUPE organized an illegal strike in 2000, it ended up with a $200,000 fine, a two-month dues suspension, and a pile of legal bills.

Third, a wildcat allows the union to argue it needs some movement from the employer in order to get the workers back to work. What precisely AUPE got in this deal is hard to say. The press coverage framed (or revealed) AHS as jerks at the bargaining table. One of the AUPE ads that was up briefly online yesterday (and has now disappeared) was a surgical processor (someone who sterilizes instruments) talking about her wages ($22/hour) versus the $267/hr the 61(ish) AHS vice-presidents make. Zing!

It showed AHS (and other employers) that AUPE isn’t to be screwed with. It also amped up the pressure on the government to loosen the purse strings. And give workers and opportunity to vent some of their frustration—knowing their managers were doing their jobs while they walked the line on a sunny winter days.

We’ll likely never know what the real story is. But we do know that the strike was reasonably effective. Perhaps other unions will take note?

-- Bob Barnetson

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Surprise: Illegal health care strike

It appears that some hospital support staff workers who are members of AUPE have gone on a wildcat strike today. You can read the initial coverage in the Journal and CBC.

AUPE has been in negotiations with Alberta Health Services for a contract that expired last spring and bargaining has reached an impasse. AUPE members rejected a mediator’s recommendation a few weeks back and bargaining resumed last week. When the employer brought an offer lower than the mediator’s recommendation, AUPE walked away from the table.

This morning a series of information pickets were planned (with workers attending during breaks). In some locations this appears to have escalated into an illegal strike unbeknownst to the union.

Illegal strikes are often highly effective because they are massively disruptive for employers and, in the public sector, tend to escalate. The 1995 laundry workers strike in Calgary is an example of that. For that reason, Canadian labour law has long constrained strikes to specific time periods and required notice ahead of time.

One of the lessons that illegal strikes teach is that employers can’t force people to work. If employers treat workers poorly (e.g., make unreasonable offers at the bargaining table), one risk they run is that workers will put down their tools. Apparently ensuring their wages were not eroded by inflation was important to these health care workers. Now the employer is facing the difficult task of determine which of its hundred of facilities are affected, how they are affected and then attempting to maintain basic services.

A second lesson is that government cannot expect to use the law as a way of containing the effects of underfunding public services. At some point, workers will view strike bans and back-to-work orders as illegitimate and disobey them. Such a decision (which can happen seemingly without much warning) create a host of problems for the state, which largely relies upon the consent of the governed to maintain order.

An illegal strike is the first step to repudiating a government’s legitimacy and authority. I’m not predicting anyone will be storming Government House this afternoon. Rather, I’m pointing out that wide-spread civil disobedience poses very difficult problems for the government. Do you arrest workers who violate the law peacefully? Do you have the capacity to do so? Will doing so cause escalate the disobedience as other workers join?

On the other hand, if you acquiesce to the demands of workers, what will other workers infer? That, if their (notionally independent) employer drives a hard bargain, they can end-run the employer by amping up the pressure on the government?

These are tricky issues for the government to manage, particularly with a provincial election looming.

-- Bob Barnetson

Update on Valerie Wolski

Back in July, I blogged about the death of Valerie Wolski. Wolski was a caregiver who was killed by a client last February. It appears the province contracted out the care of the client but failed to provide the contractor with important information about the hazard he posed to caregivers.

In the wake of Wolski’s death, an OHS order issued in this case required provision of information about dangerous clients. Oddly, it applied only to one of six regions in Alberta.

Paula Simons has some new information. While the government is still considering whether to prosecute the case, the Persons with Developmental Disabilities central region board has appealed some aspect of the Occupational Health and Safety findings.

A three-day appeal hearing will run from Feb. 28 to March 1. The appeal process is closed to the public, the proceedings will remain secret and no explanation for the appeal has been forthcoming from the PPD.

While perhaps a legally permissible process (I haven't read the relevant legislation, but the government says this is legit so let's give them the benefit of the doubt), a secret hearing on a fatality case affecting one arm of the government by another arm of the government is hardly confidence inspiring.

Let's give Wolski's husband the final word: “I was not shocked or surprised. Throughout this entire saga, I have felt as though no one is stepping up and being accountable, and that this is just going to be swept under the rug. It’s the province fighting with the province. No one will win, and I am becoming very disillusioned with the political will, but more accurately, with the sense of making this just go away.”

-- Bob Barnetson

Canadian work experience as an ideological construct

Recent immigrants often cite a lack of Canadian work experience as a barrier to labour market attachment. Bonnie Slade has recently published a book chapter examining the political economy of this requirement, which has become increasingly important since 2003.

The ideological practice of “Canadian work experience”: Adult education and the reproduction of labour and difference” argues that programming which accepts the need for immigrants to have Canadian work experience frames “immigrants as deficient in the skills necessary for the Canadian labour market and regulates immigrant professionals‘ access to the labour market” (p.139).

Slade asserts that Canadian work experience operates on two levels. Practically, it is a barrier that almost all immigrants face. Ideologically, it depoliticizes the decision (i.e., makes a decision appear neutral and widely accepted) to undervalue the skills and experiences of immigrants.

This ideological practice reinforces “the feminization and racialization of the labour market, with immigrants over-represented in precarious employment relations despite their superior educational credentials and international work experience.” (p. 139).

Slade’s analysis is quite compelling and raises difficult questions about the impact of the program logic inherent in much of the labour market programming aimed at immigrants.

-- Bob Barnetson

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Whose interests drive regulation in Alberta?

I take a fair bit of heat from former colleagues when I posit that Alberta is less interesting is making workplaces safe than it is in creating the appearance of safety while minimizing costs to employers. Yet preferring employer interests over worker interests is a recurring theme. In recent years, for example, employer groups have gotten laxer child labour laws, a two-tier minimum wage, and less effective labour laws.

The Edmonton Journal is reporting another (non-employment) example of this dynamic. Alberta is considering altering its fire safety rules by leaving it to the owners of rental properties to determine whether a bedroom has reasonable egress routes in the event of a fire.

Presently, bedrooms must have windows (easily opened and of a specified size) or a direct door outside or a sprinkler system. These rules are important. Since 2005, eight Albertans have died in rental suites that did not comply with these rules. The lack of rental accommodation during booms and the lack of renter knowledge about fire safety mean that only government regulation can effectively prevent unsafe suites.

The current rules have been under pressure from property management companies and there have seen several court challenges. Having won those challenges and received $46,000 in donations ($26k to the conservative party and $20k to premier Redford’s leadership campaign), the government has now decided that loosening the rules would be a good idea.

The question this raises is in whose interests does the government actually legislate? The public’s interest? Or employers’ interests? It is increasingly clear that employer interests receive preferential treatment. Consequently, I won’t hold my breath that the workplace safety ticketing system promised only last fall (after 8 years of dithering) will materialize anytime soon.

-- Bob Barnetson

Monday, February 13, 2012

The ability paradigm in vocational rehab

The Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation just published “The ‘Ability’ Paradigm in Vocational Rehabilitation: Challenges in an Ontario Injured Worker Retraining Program.” This article examines the “grey zone” between ability and disability as it affects vocational rehab for those with permanent disabilities or chronic health conditions in Ontario’s WCB system.

The short of it is that focusing on workers’ abilities in the workplace underestimates the impact of chronic and unstable health on return to work. For example, the impact of medication on workers’ ability to focus or even attend programming poses a significant barrier to program completion, let alone reintegration into the workforce. Further, the medical accommodations required by students to complete the program may not be available in the workplace, meaning program completers may not be able to function in the workplace.

WCB-related incentives (including those associated with experience rating) encourage employers to direct the least capable workers into this program. Specifically, employers are penalized for putting workers into the program (thus kept them at work on modified duties as long as possible). Those workers who were sent to the program tended to be those who could not (or no longer) be accommodated in the workplace. This creates a reverse creaming effect for the program.

The article also discusses the effect of contracting out this service and the complex communication pathways on the ability to providers to know and address the needs of workers. The net effect (and I’m summarizing some) is that workers deemed employable (which is often the point workers’ compensation benefits are reduced or cut off) may have difficulty securing employment after participating in the program because focusing on worker ability tends to ignores important environmental conditions.

-- Bob Barnetson

Friday, February 10, 2012

Globe article on Temporary Foreign Workers

The Globe had a brief article on temporary foreign workers following the death of 10 migrant farm workers in Ontario earlier this week. One of the more interesting quotes was this one:
What took Alec Farquhar aback when he arrived in Simcoe, Ont., one Friday evening in 2009 to bring a mobile medical clinic to migrants was the size of a labour network of which he’d only been tangentially aware.

“It's like a whole different town. It's taken over by farm workers. And you get this sense of this hidden community in our midst – the people who are serving our basic needs and we don’t know who they are. I found it profoundly moving. And unsettling,” he said.
Road fatalities among migrant workers occur every couple of years. The last one that comes to mind offhand was the 2007 rollover in BC where three migrant workers died and 13 or 14 others were injured.

-- Bob Barnetson

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teacher bargaining stalls

It appears that bargaining between the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) and the provincial government for a new collective agreement has broken down over the issue of workload. The teachers’ current contract expires at the end of August.

The government and the ASBA have framed this issue as being about instructional time. Consider this comment by Minister of Education Thomas Lukaszuk:
"The face time that children have with their teachers is non-negotiable. So our position on behalf of the children is that we want to make sure that there is no diminished learning time."

The ATA suggests the issue is about the broader concept of workload. This would include discussion of non-instructional duties (e.g., meetings, supervision, clerical tasks), which comprise a significant amount of teachers’ work. To bolster their case, the ATA has released a report on teacher workload.

The nub of the report is that the 20 teachers in the study worked an average of 55.7-hours a week (although there was significant variation between participants). Of the 55.7 hours worked, 80 per cent were spent on core instructional activity such as teaching, planning, assessing and reporting. Among the factors driving teacher working time are work intensification, demands driven by technology and increasingly complex student needs.

Before getting drawn into the government’s and ASBA’s framing of the issue (which is basically “oh, think of the children”), it is useful to remember that negotiations are primarily about money. Specifically, limiting teacher workloads will cost the school boards (and thus the government) more money because teachers will have a more effective way to resist work intensification.

It is also useful to see the broader political context. The government sought to resolve teacher bargaining before the spring election so as to neutralize the issue during the campaign and lock up support for the premier among educators and parents. Since this isn’t going to happen, the government is now attempting to place the blame for impasse on the teachers.

And, if provincial talks founder, then bargaining may devolve to individual school boards and locals. This gives the government some deniability if the poop hits the fan in the autumn: school boards are autonomous, although the length of their leash is determined by government funding.

And local bargaining creates difficulties for the ATA maintaining discipline among their locals. Some locals are stronger than others and if a weak local takes a crappy deal, then the ATA either has to nix the deal (which will be politically awkward) or accept a deal that starts an undesirable settlement pattern.

-- Bob Barnetson

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Right to strike under the Charter

A court case in Saskatchewan has struck down a law which limited the right of public-sector workers to strike. David Doorey has a nice explanation and analysis. The constitutional protection accorded various labour rights has been in some flux for the past 10 years and this decisions is one of several recent decisions to watch.

If this decision is upheld on appeal to the Supreme Court, it raises questions about a number of Alberta statutes which preclude strike action, including the Public Sector Employee Relations Act (no strikes for public sector workers), the Labour Relations Code (no strikes for public health care employees) and the Post-Secondary Learning Act (college and university faculty).

-- Bob Barnetson

Monday, February 6, 2012

Using a labour shortage to recommodify labour

There was an article in the Edmonton Journal this weekend about Alberta’s labour shortage. The article said in part:
With low unemployment here and higher jobless rates in Central and Eastern Canada, (chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Ken) Barry said the issue of encouraging the jobless to relocate has been pushed for some time.

"(Chamber members) were in Ottawa this fall and had conversations with federal and Ontario politicians. It seems there is not a compelling enough reason to get somebody who has grown accustomed to whatever lifestyle they have, through EI (employment insurance) or whatever, to move across the country," he said Friday.
This is an example of the discouse that has developed around the recommodification of labour. Recommodification is a complicated concept, but a rough-and-ready explanation is that, by denying individuals access to the necessities of life (via reducing income support payments), governments can compel workers to be more responsive to the demands of employers, regardless of workers’ personal preferences.

Take a minute to re-read Barry’s quote carefully. It appears to contain two basic assumptions. First, individuals are defined as workers who should be (but aren't) responsive to the needs of employers. Second, where social programs assist workers to resist or ignore the demands of employers, the state should constrain or eliminate those programs.

It is useful to recall that unemployed workers are not just workers. They are members of a family and a community. They may well have good reason to resist uprooting themselves and their families to come work for Alberta employers. Perhaps they have aging parents to care for or kids in school. Or perhaps the wages offered at their new destination may be poor or the working conditions may be unsafe.

It is also useful to recall that these individuals are also citizens, with rights to certain income support programs (often programs they have funded themselves through paycheque deductions) and a right to live where they choose. Shouldn’t we respect the rights of unemployed individuals to access income support programs and choose where they want to live rather than cutting off access to social programs and using the whip of hunger to force workers to come to Alberta?

Perhaps a better approach (as Barry seems to suggest later) is to induce workers to come to Alberta? Barry's suggestions for doing so (playing up the weather, having a good transportation system) don't really resonate with me as a worker. I might prefer higher wages, job security and safe working conditions. That difference reflects the underlying conflict between the interests of employers (who want cheap, abundant labour) and worker (who want adequate compensation, the opportunity to choose between jobs, and safe working conditions).

-- Bob Barnetson

Friday, February 3, 2012

Child labour in BC

A new project has been launched to examine the impact of loosening BC's child labour laws (back in 2003). BC's child labour laws were relaxed to offload responsibility to parents, according to the government, because the laws were hard to enforce (insert sound of my head exploding).

Not surprisingly, injuries to young workers have increased significantly since that time. In fact, there was a tenfold increase in the number of reported workplace injuries by children 12-14 during the first five years after this change. It is unclear whether this is a reporting effect or an actual change, but my guess is that when you loosen the rules, hazard exposure will increase, thus driving greater injury.

The BC government has declined to alter its approach despite the upswing in child injury. Loosening the rules also has the effect of making child labour invisible as the government has no idea where children are being employed. This is politically convenient ("child labour? I don't see no child labour") but seems contrary to the basic principle that we ought to protect children from harm.

-- Bob Barnetson

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Root causes of workplace in injury in Nova Scotia

I ran across “Patterns of Root Cause in Workplace Injury” by Bruce Dodge the other day. This paper summarizes a qualitative investigation of serious workplace injury events in Nova Scotia. It focuses on determining root causes (rather than proximate causes) of injury.

The article has some interesting bits:
“A picture emerges from the data of employers who have not effectively managed workplace safety or implemented comprehensive safety systems. This is not to say employers with safety systems do not have injuries, but the dominant picture emerging from the investigation data is of workplaces where safety is not a recognized role of management, or is not a priority.” (p.12)

“Leadership recognition and acceptance of their role in safety emerges as the single most important element missing across workplaces reflected in the injury based data set. A lack of awareness of safety, or lack of understanding about how to conduct work safely, identify hazards and create safe means of conducting the work is prevalent in the injury data. The technical side of how to prevent injuries is readily available for the needs of most workplaces, what appears to be absent is the decision to create safe workplaces and commit to actions to consciously and intentionally prevent injury.” (p.12)

“The imbalance of power in the workplace is reflected in activities undertaken by workers knowing they are at risk. Management commitment to safety must be demonstrated through events, not simply stated. The injury-based data reflects an underlying premise that workers are expected to do what needs to be done, without unduly concerning themselves with risk.” (p.13)

Ouch! This seems to add to the argument that employers cannot really be trusted to ensure workers' safety through self-regulation.

-- Bob Barnetson