CANADA: Union calls for nationwide action on safety criminals

The announcement that Canada’s Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s (RNC) will undertake criminal investigations into all serious injuries and deaths that occur at workplaces throughout the province, has been welcomed by the United Steelworkers (USW).

USW Canadian director Ken Neumann welcomed news that the RNC is to train officers to initiate criminal investigations at the site of every incident, rather than securing the scene and handing things over to occupational health and safety officials. “This significant development sends a strong message to employers about their responsibility to provide safe workplaces,” Neumann said.

“Too many Canadian workers die every year in preventable tragedies. The announcement by the RNC should be a wake-up call to negligent employers that there will be consequences to their actions.”

The move by the RNC builds upon similar steps taken in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Alberta, as well as positive work by the Toronto Police Service, and should be a uniform standard across the country, said USW Western Canada director Stephen Hunt.

“No matter which province they work in, workers deserve protection and family members of victims deserve justice. It is now incumbent on every provincial government and every police service in Canada to ensure that the Westray Law is being properly applied and enforced.”

The corporate manslaughter law was introduced after a prolonged union campaign in the wake of the 1992 Westray mine disaster in which 26 workers died. USW says its ‘Stop the killing, enforce the law’ campaign has garnered the support of hundreds of local governments, community groups and individuals.