Ralph Tucker, chair of the Workplace, Health, Safety and Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador, speaks at the third annual Health and Safety Symposium in Deer Lake Tuesday. — Photo by Cory Hurley/The Western Star
Getting home safe from work each day starts with you, says Ralph Tucker.
That is the message the chair of the Workplace, Health, Safety and Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador left with delegates at the Forestry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador’s third annual Health and Safety Symposium in Deer Lake Tuesday.
Tucker said there has been a culture of safety built throughout the province over the past decade, but there is more work to do.
After presenting statistics pertaining to elements of occupational health and safety that has seen the province rise from among the worst in the country to one of the best, he said as long as there is one person injured on the job that is one too many.
In fact, using averages, he said there were five people injured as delegates participated in the symposium Tuesday morning. There would be another three hurt by lunch and five more in the afternoon. By days end, it would increase to 15 — the average number of people injured at work per day in the province.
“Then tomorrow, it starts again,” Tucker said. “Fifteen is way too many. One is too many.
“Keep vigilant, work on your safety regimes, participate in all of your safety programs, continue to support your association, and at the end of the day, it all starts with you.”
He said prevention is key and then it is claim management and financial stability. However, prevention takes care of the latter two pillars of the association.
Tucker said 91 per cent of all employees are now injury free in the province — with the lost time injury rate down to 1.6 per 100 workers.
“That’s about 15,000 people who didn’t get hurt and it is about $450 million of cost to the system that wasn’t spent,” he said.
For all its positives, Tucker said there is still at least one area that needs significant improvement. While he watches the number of workplace injuries steadily decrease, he said the number of deaths from occupational diseases keeps climbing. That must change, according to the chair.
“It’s an area we take a real hard look at and it is something that is a major concern to us,” he said. “We don’t want to see that in 20 or 40 years from now that kind of incident rate.”