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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
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    :: Thursday, August 04, 2005 ::

    Deadly side to B.C. building boom - CBC British Columbia
    The number of workers killed on the job is up dramatically in B.C., with 58 people dying in workplace accidents so far this year. That's an increase of nearly 50 per cent over the same time last year.

    The province in the midst of a major building boom with about $62 billion in major construction planned over the next decade.

    And some critics say the government is not doing enough to ensure workplaces are safe – and that cutbacks at the Workers' Compensation Board mean that inspectors don't always know what's going on.

    "Inspections are down about 18 per cent," says Wayne Peppard of the B.C. Building Trades Council. "Even the written penalties are down 60 per cent. It's extremely dangerous."

    But on-the-job accidents and deaths don't happen just on construction sites. In the last month, workers have died in a cement mixer, a wood chipper and most recently – when a garbage truck crashed into a pedestrian overpass.

    Peppard says it's only the tip of iceberg because some employers are pushing their employees not to file accident reports.

    "They're keeping them off the job and not reporting the incidents at certain times," he says.

    He also notes that many jobsite accidents occur in the underground economy, which now comprises as much as 50 per cent of the residential construction business.

    While the WCB agrees it has cutback over recent years, it says it still has more inspectors per capita than any other large jurisdiction in the country.

    "We've hired 12 more inspectors this year, and they're just starting to get out in the field now," says spokesperson Scott McCloy.
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