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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2005

Consulted to Death: How Canada's Workplace Health and Safety System Fails Workers

Doug Smith. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2000; 171 pp; ISBN: 1-894037-08-1, paper $15.95 ca.
More than two decades ago, governments across Canada adopted — with much ballyhoo — new occupational health and safety laws. These laws were intended, to use the language of the day, to empower and educate workers by providing them with three fundamental rights — the right to know what they were working with, the right to refuse dangerous work, and the right to participate in health and safety committees. It was believed that these rights, which became known as The Three Rs, would significantly reduce on-the-job injuries and occupationally-induced illness, improve productivity, and cut government healthcare costs. Twenty years later, carnage in the workplace is still a national disgrace. Consulted to Death considers how occupational health and safety laws actually operate in the workplace and concludes that they have failed to deliver on their promise because, despite their rhetoric, they do not adequately confront the issue of power in the workplace.
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