2021 workplace fatalities show tragic loss, family impact (Feb. 17/22)

HALIFAX, NS – The number of Nova Scotians who died at work or because of their work declined in 2021 compared to the year before, according to data released today by WCB Nova Scotia and the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration (LSI).

In 2021, 20 Nova Scotians died at work or because of their work. Of these, five Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job. These acute deaths occurred in the fishing and construction sectors. In 2020, there were 18 total acute fatalities, the highest total since 2008.

There were also 15 fatalities classified as chronic in 2021 – seven related to occupational diseases stemming from past exposures, and eight caused by health-related issues, such as heart attacks, which occurred at the workplace but may or may not have been related to work. In 2020, there were 14 chronic fatalities. To further understand these classifications, please refer to this fact sheet

“To all those families and communities who lost a loved one last year due to a work-related accident or injury, we are truly sorry for your loss,” says Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser. “Every person working in Nova Scotia deserves to return home safe from work. We will continue our efforts, alongside our partners, to make sure employers, workers, and industry are doing everything they should to keep people safe at work.” 

WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean says we must continue to focus on safety education and awareness, especially in historically high-risk industries.

“We are seeing more leaders in fishing and construction step forward, and turn a spotlight on reducing the risk of injury in the workplace, but there is still work to do to ensure all Nova Scotians return home safely at the end of their day,” says MacLean. “One fatality is too many.” 

WCB Nova Scotia and LSI continue to work closely with industry and other partners to promote workplace safety. Together, the organizations, along with safety associations, conduct workplace visits and education and awareness campaigns, part of ongoing efforts to make workplace safety a norm throughout the province.

Following a workplace tragedy, it can be difficult to know where to turn. Threads of Life is a national charity dedicated to supporting families during this very challenging time, providing an ongoing network of support. To learn more, visit www.threadsoflife.ca.