Yukon staff’ compensation board working with outfitters to enhance office security

The Yukon Occupational Health and Safety Board will continue its public relations work with equipment suppliers this year after one of them fined $ 46,000 for safety issues that contributed to the death of an employee.

Although complaints against outfitters are rare, Kurt Dieckmann, President and CEO of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, told CBC that damage claims from outfitters have increased since 2017.

“We know there are gaps in understanding that outfitters and many other employers in the field have about their obligations under the Labor Protection Act and regulations,” he said.

“You need to take action to address this.”

Equipment workers are exposed to “very unique hazards”.

According to Dieckmann, the board receives between four and twelve claims from equipment workers each year, some of which involve “fairly serious” and “fairly expensive” injuries.

Because of the nature of the outfitting work – remote locations, rough terrain, inclement weather, close interaction with pets and wildlife – employees are exposed to some “very unique hazards” at work, which create additional challenges in implementing security programs. said Dieckman.

“We have seen a lot of injuries from interactions with horses – falling from horses, being kicked by a horse, holding a horse and pulling the horse’s shoulder off and things like that,” he said.

“You have to deal with wild animals too, and not just wild animals, but you have insects too, you just have a variety of dangers that you are not exposed to in workplaces like construction and mining office environments.”

Industry-wide security plan is in progress

In 2017, the board began working with the Yukon Outfitters Association, which represents 14 of the approximately 20 outfitters in the area, to develop an industry-wide safety program similar to the program established by the board with the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association.

Dieckmann said the board’s “fear is that something tragic will happen” if occupational safety issues are not addressed; That fear became a reality in January 2019 after a Trophy Stone Outfitting employee drowned after his snowmobile fell into open water while checking the outfitter’s bearings.

Trophy Stone and one of its co-owners recently pleaded guilty to health and safety charges in a district court. As part of an effort to correct the problems that contributed to death, the outfitter paid to create a bespoke health and safety plan, making it the first outfitter in the area to have such a plan.

While work on the industry-wide safety plan stalled in 2020 due to limited COVID-19 meeting opportunities, according to Dieckmann, the safety officers managed to visit 13 equipment stores during the season to discuss planning and health and safety resources to share in the workplace.

He said officials plan to visit equipment depots again this year “to get them involved in their jobs, because that’s where it really is most effective.”

“We need to see not just outfitters, but all employers who take health and safety seriously,” he said, explaining that it is vital for employers to understand their commitments and ensure that their employees have the tools and training to protect yourself and others.

“I know from personal experience and from speaking with many employers who have suffered serious injuries or deaths in their workplace that the workplace is very, very hard when it happens, and no employer I’ve ever met has been like this laissez-faire or casually that they don’t care if a worker is seriously injured or killed. ”

Shawn Wassel, president of the Yukon Outfitters Association, told CBC that members of the association “took advantage of” opportunities to improve occupational safety, whether after feedback from safety officers or after working on the “developing” draft of the industry-wide plan.

“Safety performance is part of the core business for equipment. We continue to examine ways to improve safety performance and ensure safety in the workplace,” he said.

“We look [forward to] Our safety plan is designed to be continuously improved and effective to ensure the safety of our employees and our customers and to continue to focus on our hunting operations in the field in a safe and productive manner. “

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