WorkSafeBC reports 175 workers died in 2023

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One hundred and seventy five B.C. workers died in 2023, of whom just over half died from occupational disease.

As part of the April 28 Day of Mourning across Canada, WorkSafeBC reported its end-of-year death toll showing 60 workers died from traumatic injury in 2023. Of those, 22 died in workplace motor vehicle accidents while others died in falls, being struck by objects and being caught in machinery.

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As recently as Feb. 21, Yuridia Flores, a mother of two, died while working as a traffic controller after being crushed by wooden formwork that fell from a tower under construction in Vancouver.

There have been 22 incidents involving tower cranes over the last five years, according to WorkSafeBC, including the “catastrophic failure” of a crane in downtown Kelowna in 2021.

A worker looks on as a police officer investigates a collapsed crane resting on the building it damaged in Kelowna, B.C., Monday, July 12, 2021. Postmedia Network

Of the 93 workers who died from occupational disease in 2023, 48 died from exposure to asbestos, some decades after inhaling the deadly fibres.

There was an asbestos mine in Cassiar in Northern B.C. that operated from 1951 until 1992. Even though authorities warned of its dangers as early as the 1940s and ’50s, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that asbestos ceased to be used in homes.

“Today, we mourn those workers we’ve lost to workplace injury and illness and think of the workers who’ve survived, but whose lives have been deeply altered,” said B.C. Federation of Labour president Sussanne Skidmore.

“Despite the real progress we’ve made in making workplaces safer, the number of workers who die every year because of their jobs remains near its all-time high.”

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