Westray Law must be used to stop deaths on the job
BURNABY, B.C. – The United Steelworkers union (USW) welcomes the news that charges have been laid in the case of a worker’s death on the job in Northwest Territories.
CBC News reported this week that SMS Equipment, a heavy equipment contractor at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine northeast of Yellowknife faces seven charges from the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC), in the September 2022 death of an employee.
“While they were not a member of our union, the USW sends our condolences to the worker’s family and co-workers,” said Marty Warren, USW National Director.
“Too many workers are dying on the job. Over 1,000 workers lose their lives in Canada every year, just because they went to work. It’s unconscionable,” said Scott Lunny, USW Director for Western Canada and the Territories (District 3).
The USW’s campaign Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law aims to end workplace death and injury by promoting the use of the Westray Law to ensure directors and companies where workers die on the job are investigated under the Criminal Code of Canada and face jail terms, not only fines.
The USW intends to follow up with police and prosecutors in the Northwest Territories to ensure they are trained on the application of the Westray Law in cases of workplace deaths and injuries.
When the worker was killed, and again this week when the charges were announced, spokespeople for SMS Equipment said their top priority is “to ensure the employee’s family and co-workers have the support they need.”
“The top priority for SMS Equipment and the Gahcho Kué mine’s owners should be ensuring workers don’t ever die on the job,” said Warren.
“The USW is a health and safety union and a mining union. We are committed to making sure Canadian miners are safe on the job and no worker ever has to lose their life or be seriously injured just trying to earn a living,” said Lunny.
The Gahcho Kué mine is a joint venture between De Beers Canada Inc. and Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.
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