Despite overall progress, workplace fatalities increased in 2020 (March 4/21)

HALIFAX, NS – Acute workplace fatalities hit a tragic high in 2020, according to information released today from WCB Nova Scotia and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE).

Eighteen Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job, the highest our province has seen since 2008. There were also 14 fatalities classified as chronic – 7 related to occupational diseases and 7 caused by health related issues, such as heart attacks. 

Although Nova Scotia has been seeing reductions in overall workplace injury over the years, one fatality is too many. 

“My heart goes out to all of the families who have lost someone on the job. One workplace fatality is too many,” says Labour and Advanced Education Minister Lena Metlege Diab, Q.C. “We do not take this increase lightly. This is an important time for us to come together and renew our commitment to improving workplace health and safety across our province.”

The year ended in tragedy at sea with the sinking of the Chief William Saulis, and the loss of its six-member crew. 

“Over the last five years, the fishing industry has worked vigorously to improve conditions for the men and women who earn their living at sea. This is a profound reminder that fishing remains a dangerous and demanding job,” said WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean. 

WCB Nova Scotia and LAE 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