Workplace and work-related deaths overrepresented among men
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
In 2019, BC work-place related deaths matched a record high from 2014 when 203 people died on the job site.
On November 6, a New Westminster lumber firm was fined nearly $16,000 for the deaths of two workers who were crushed by unstable lumber back in 2016. As upsetting as work related deaths are, this far from an isolated incident. Just this year in the Metro Vancouver area, news outlets reported in May a Vancouver worker was crushed in a construction paving incident and did not survive, and a Burnaby construction worker had a tragic accident in July. International Men’s Day seems a fitting time to acknowledge the disproportionate amount of men that die on the job in BC, Canada, and around the world.
Notably, a 2012 Vancouver Sun article states that 9 out of 10 workplace deaths are men. This becomes even more concerning when taken into account that in 2019, BC work-place related deaths matched a record high from 2014 when 203 people died on job site. Of those deaths (reported by March 21, 2020), 26 were caused by a motor vehicle accident, 57 from other injuries, 65 due to asbestos (which has been the leading cause of work-related deaths for the past decade), and 55 to other diseases.
The deadliest work sectors in in BC are construction with 33 deaths, general construction with 30, transport and warehouses saw 25 deaths, and 24 for manufacturing—all of these sectors are predominantly occupied by men. Other sectors affected are the service sector, retail, forestry, oil and gas resource, fishing, and agriculture. In comparison, six BC women died of occupational diseases such as asbestos poisoning in 2011. When it came to traumatic incidents, 38 men and four women were killed at their workplaces which consisted mostly of construction and primary resources, and 27 men and two women died in work related vehicle incidents. In the same Vancouver Sun article, the BC Minister of Labour Margaret MacDiarmid says that more men die on the job because they tend to go into more dangerous professions and that women tend to avoid “outdoor work.”
What’s more is that a 2016 Vancouver Sun article says that in Canada, men are 20 times more likely to die in the workplace, and this is something that happens all across the globe. According to a 2016 Canadian Institutes of Health Research article, “Danger Zone: Men, Masculinity, and Occupational Health and Safety in High Risk Occupations,” in Canada, 97 percent of workplace related fatalities recorded between 1997 and 2005 were male, in 2012, 92 percent of workplace deaths in the US were men, and 96 percent in Australia were also men. It also noted that men are often overrepresented in high risk jobs like construction, mining, firefighting, military, farming, fishing, and protective services.