Commission aims to make province safest place in Canada to work

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on August 2, 2013

CORNER BROOK — Ralph Tucker may be one of a select few chairpersons in the world who would be more than happy to work his staff out of a job.

That’s what the head of the board of the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Commission (WHSCC) told members of the Rotary Club of Corner Brook Thursday.

“I wil be very happy to be a part of the group that shuts WHSCC down,” Tucker said.

In the meantime, Tucker and Brenda Greenslade, the executive director of prevention, presented figures that appear to show there is still very much a need for the commission in this province.

While it is still a priority of the commission to compensate injured workers, prevention of injury and death has also become a significant focus. That effort appears to be paying dividends.

Since 2007, more than 14,800 workplace injuries have been prevented in this province, according to Tucker. In the past decade, the province has climbed from the worst statistics to approaching third-best.

Even that is not good enough for the chair.

“No. 3 is not good,” he said. “No. 1 is good.”

Speaking to members of the Rotary club, the majority of who represent the business community, he said he is looking for an army of ambassadors who are serious about and understand safety.

The commission offers the CEO Leadership Charter for business leaders, which includes 55 current members, and Tucker wants more.

“The more that are out there championing safety, the safer our province will be,” he said.

A company becoming a chartered member demonstrates to its employees that they are valued and important assets. The message comes from the top in the company and is then sold down the line.

Meanwhile, Greenslade aided Tucker in his presentation by showcasing some of the more high-profile people who have encountered occupational disease. From the characters exposure to poppy dust used in the original “Wizard of Oz” to the asbestos exposure in the filming of “White Christmas” to Pete Townsend of “The Who” and his hearing-loss condition, she said sometimes hazardous workplace conditions are not so obvious.

While workplace injuries and deaths are decreasing, occupational disease is a trend moving in the opposite direction in this province.

“We want to increase your awareness, and to do it in a way that makes an impression on you,” she said.

“Maybe the next time you might think what are people being exposed to, and what am I actually exposed to in my day-to-day life and activities?”