Around 75 mourners paid their respects on Sunday for Yukon workers hurt or killed on the job last year.
In 2012 the Yukon Workers’ Compensation board had 1,049 accepted claims from injured workers in the territory. One worker – helicopter pilot Paul Rosset – was killed.
Rosset died when his helicopter went down near Carcross in July. Rosset was flying two Environment Yukon employees into the Southern Lakes region to gather data on grizzly bears.
Their chopper went down on Nares Mountain. Environment Yukon’s John Postma was paralyzed in the crash and another passenger sustained minor injuries. An investigation by the Transportation Safety Board is still ongoing.
In 2011 there were four workers killed on the job and 1,102 hurt. The previous year saw three killed and 1,076 hurt, and things don’t seem to be improving.
While Rosset was the only worker killed last year, the number of workers injured has remained around 1,000 for the past 10 years.
Vikki Quocksister, president of the Yukon Federation of Labour, said part of the problem is the Yukon’s increasingly younger workforce.
“I think we have an influx of young workers. What it’s going to be is just getting the information out there and getting some training done. Our focus in the future is to try to keep people safe. Through the Canada Labour Congress, we have health and safety courses. That’s something we’re going to be moving forward with in the near future,” said Quocksister.
The job market is also changing, Quocksister said. There are more industry and transportation jobs, which are often more dangerous.
“Jobs are changing,” she said. “We’ve got more trucks on the roads than we did 50 years ago. Mining is coming back, and people live faster. We’re in more of a hurry these days. It comes down to awareness,” she said.
“The question people always have to ask is how many are acceptable,” said Richard Mostyn, the spokesman for Yukon Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board.
“The answer is none. You can’t say, ‘Well, we’re ready to accept, say, 700 claims.’ We want to get to as few as possible. Zero would be tolerable,” Mostyn said.
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