Group gets all sweaty over trucking workplace danger

OTTAWA — If you’re at a federally regulated trucking company — and odds are pretty good you are — you could apparently be at a dangerous "sweatshop."

At least that’s the opinion of an organization called the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), a left-wing think tank that released a report this week called "Success is No Accident."

It’s a report of the levels of occupational safety among federally regulated companies. Federally regulated truckers, for example, are lumped in with native reserves and the post office as unsafe and getting-unsafer-by-the-day places to work.

The report was released at the same time as another CCPA document highly critical of the Harper government; the second one is titled Canada’s Regulatory Obstacle Course —  "a look at why the government’s poor record on workplace safety is not an isolated case but may reflect an across-the-board weakening of the federal regulatory process.”

The report singled out trucking, one of the nation’s single biggest employers, as among the most dangerous federally regulated industries. In 2007, there were 7,700 fatal or disabling incidents reported; up from 6,200 five years earlier.

The report quoted inspection officers as saying the trucking industry is difficult to effectively track because many operations are made up of "little more than a basement desk and cellphone." (How there could be so many injuries as a result of using cellphones from behind a basement desk, the report didn’t say).

Relying on 17 interviews with Labour Affairs Officers (LAO), the study comes to the conclusion that if LAOs were paid more and there were more of them on the job, people who work in federally regulated organizations would be much safer and happier.

According to the CCPA, the Feds have cut inspection staffs, thereby making federally regulated workplaces more dangerous. This, the study claims, is in marked contrast to provincial governments, which have “worked diligently to drive down the number of workplace injuries."

The CCPA staged the launch of its report on the eve of annual national day of mourning Wednesday for killed and injured workers. That means the media will pick it up this week and you’re probably going to be hearing a lot more about that “sweatshop” you’re working in.

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