. but when I look into fatality numbers over the years, it’s pretty common to see fluctuations,” adds Ben Dille with WCB. Among the province’s various industries, the construction sector continued to see the highest number of deaths with 51 reported last year by WCB, up from 42 in 2015. Twenty-five workers died in the transportation sector last year and 19 in manufacturing were killed. Ryan Davis of the Alberta Construction Safety Association said his sector is, by far, the largest employer group tracked by the province. It also covers some occupations that are inherently more dangerous. Many deaths reported in the construction trades — 32 last year — were tied to occupational diseases, with the vast majority connected to asbestos. “Because the exposure in the 1970s and 1980s are now taking hold and tragically killing these people, that number has increased,” Davis says. “I would expect these numbers will continue to increase for the next probably 10 years or so, and then they’ll start to decline.” Bob Barnetson, a professor of labour relations at Athabasca University, says occupational diseases tend to have a long latency period, and there is more acceptance today of their claims being work related.
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