Forget your hard hat and face a fine.
It’s part of a “zero tolerance” campaign against sloppy safety precautions at dangerous jobs, being waged by the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.
Starting July 1, both workers and bosses in industries like construction will be fined for not wearing protective equipment like hard hats, goggles and boots.
Taking such precautions has been required by law since 1984. But the safety board is saying there will be no more lenience given to those who don’t abide by the law.
“People think that the use of protective equipment is a personal choice. It’s not, it’s the law,” said Kurt Dieckmann, director of occupational health and safety for
the health and safety board.
Up until now the responsibility for wearing equipment has fallen on the employer. Starting in July, if an employee is caught without safety equipment both he and his employer will have to pay a fine.
The fines for an employee is $50; it’s $250 for employers. Employers can also be fined up to $500 if they have failed to provide proper protective equipment or appropriate training to employees.
Both the employee and employer will also be forced to take an online course about using protective equipment.
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to employers or workers. It is the standard across Canada to wear personal protective equipment,” said Jennifer Byram of Pelly Construction.
The zero tolerance campaign is a result of stakeholder meetings with 52 industry groups representing 250 different businesses in the Yukon, said Dieckmann.
The safety of workers wasn’t the only motivation for the campaign. As the number of injured workers grows, so do claim costs for companies.
“We’re really tired of bearing the brunt of costs for other companies who refuse to (engage in safe practices),” said Byram.
About 2,000 accidents were reported to the board last year. Almost half of these came from people working construction.
“Most of these accidents are a result of strained backs,” said Dieckmann. “But it’s also slips, trips and falls that are the culprit.”
Dieckmann conceded that it’s not just safety spurring this campaign. Public image also is behind it.
“The most frequent complaints we get are about people doing work and not wearing personal protective equipment,” said Dieckmann.
“When you see people out on the worksite without equipment it looks like
a bunch of rag tag people digging a hole. We’re trying to portray professionalism on the job.”
Darrell Stone of Skookum Asphalt echoed this view.
“Professionalism is important. We take pride in how we’re perceived by people in the community.”
Contact Vivian Belik at