Young workers slighted by WCB, says NDP

Yukon parents and their children have the right to know which Yukon companies are safe to work for and which aren’t.

Yukon parents and their children have the right to know which Yukon companies are safe to work for and which aren’t.

And, running a workers’ safety campaign that doesn’t provide people with the information that can save their lives and limbs doesn’t make a lot of sense, said NDP MLA Steve Cardiff.

Cardiff tabled a motion last week in the legislative assembly that would require the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board to report the names and safety records of Yukon companies.

It’s a move the workers’ compensation board has refused to make.

“The way I view it is there are incentives for employers to improve safety in the workplace,” said Cardiff in an interview Tuesday.

“It could be a requirement of the act that WCB reports, or it could be done through a regulation.”

“It’s not unlike what’s happening when a retailer is caught selling tobacco to minors. They have to put an ad in the paper saying they did it and are not allowed to sell tobacco.”

The NDP is concerned about the safety of workers, primarily young workers, and would like to see all the information on the table so people can make informed employment choices, he said.

“I want all the tools in place to get us to where workers are not being hurt on the job, especially young people.

“They seem to be the most vulnerable; they have the least experience in the workplace.”

In 2006, the Yukon had a record year for workplace injury reports: 1,984.

This year’s reports are higher than last year, according to the workers’ compensation board.

To date, there have been 1,690 injuries reported in 2007, including 301 workers aged 25 and under.

Last year at this time, there were 1,620 injuries reported including 281 people 25 and under.

The workers’ compensation board has no intention on naming names, said board chair Craig Tuton.

The board would rather work with offending companies in a more “positive” and “progressive” manner.

“We’re too small; if in fact there are a number of workplaces that are on the opposite end of safety, we can work with those companies and develop programs that will enable them to change,” he said.

Occupational health and safety officials will be visiting companies with poor records and will try to help them. Those who don’t want help may require “separate” action, he said.

“That would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Brad Cathers, the minister responsible for the workers’ compensation board, did not return phone calls.