Numbers Show Ontario Construction Site Deaths Remain Stubbornly High

The death of two construction workers killed in December when the building they were working on in southwest London suddenly collapsed serves as a sombre reminder that in Ontario, workplace deaths continue to stay stubbornly high.

According to Ontario Labour Ministry statistics, 19 workers died while working on construction jobs in the fiscal year ending in 2014. 

In each year since, the number of deaths has stayed relatively constant, averaging slightly fewer than 20 a year. 

Enzo Garritano is president and CEO of Ontario’s Infrastructure Health and Safety Organization, which provides training and other resources to make workplaces safer.

He would like to see a downward trend in workplace deaths year-over-year, but that’s not what’s been happening.

“Certainly over the last number of years, the number of fatalities in the sectors that we serve… has really dogged the industry,” he said. “The number of fatalities has not gone down in a trend of any sort.” 

Answering the “why” question has been as challenging as improving the numbers, said Garritano.

“We know that some companies have no injuries for many, many years,” he said. “And there’s no reason that can’t be done across the province.” 

The number of critical workplace injuries in the construction sector isn’t going down either, in fact it’s increasing.

That number was 231 in the 2014 fiscal year. In the year ending in 2019, it was 357. 

Ontario’s Labour Ministry is now investigating what caused the four-storey building, slated to become premium apartments, to collapse while concrete was being poured. A coroner’s inquest will also be called.

On Monday, a mini-memorial to the victims had grown to a half-dozen flower bouquets. The security fence is now lined with a few vests and hard hats signed with messages of condolence.

A statement on the company’s website links to a Go Fund Me page in support of the families of those affected. 

A photo on the company’s website shows the flag outside its offices at half-mast on Saturday.