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175 workers died in B.C. in 2023, WorkSafeBC says

First responders were called to the scene of a "crane incident" at the Oakridge Park development on Feb. 21, 2024. First responders were called to the scene of a "crane incident" at the Oakridge Park development on Feb. 21, 2024.
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Last year, 175 people lost their lives to injuries or illnesses suffered at work, according to accepted work-related death claims from WorkSafeBC.

The agency released workplace death statistics for the year on Sunday, which was observed as a Day of Mourning across Canada to remember those who died on the job. More than two dozen ceremonies were held in communities across B.C.

“Every single one of those numbers is a worker who went to their job and should have come back in the same condition they left in, but they didn’t,” said Stephen von Sychowski, president of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, who emceed the downtown Vancouver ceremony, attended by several elected officials and union leaders.

“One workplace death is already too many,” he continued. “We have to do everything in our power to ensure every worker is safe every day.”

WorkSafeBC says occupational disease remained the number one killer of workers in 2023, accounting for 93 of the 175 deaths. Of those, 48 fatalities stemmed from asbestos exposure, “often decades ago.”

Sixty workers died from “traumatic injury” last year, which includes falls, being struck by objects, or getting caught in machinery.

Motor vehicle incidents killed 22 workers in 2023.

Construction was the most deadly sector last year, claiming 39 lives.

Of the 175 workers killed, 163 were male and 12 were female, while three were young workers between the ages of 15 and 24.

The 2023 death toll is slightly lower than in 2022, when 181 workers died.

“I’ll never forget sitting down with the Gale family, who lost their daughter firefighting in a workplace-related tragedy that devastated the entire community. The story of the hardworking mother of two at the Oakridge development killed in a crane accident,” Premier David Eby said at the Vancouver ceremony.

“We all have an interest as British Columbians to ensure that everybody is safe at work, families are kept together, that people live long, full and happy, healthy lives, and that will truly ensure the prosperity of our province,” he continued. 

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