04/28/2014 05:00 EDT | Updated 06/28/2014 05:59 EDT

Workplace Safety By The Numbers

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Today is the National Day of Mourning to remember workers injured, killed or afflicted with an occupational illness while on the job. And if it turns out to be an average day for workplace safety in Canada, three workers will die.

In 2012, the most recent year for official statistics, there were 977 workplace-related fatalities in Canada, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. But those numbers only cover workplaces where workers can receive provincial compensation benefits. 

"Hundreds more die from under-reported illnesses and occupational diseases that go unrecognized in the compensation systems," says the Canadian Labour Congress, which first established the National Day of Mourning exactly 30 years ago this year.

The AWCBC statistics show that the official number of 2012 fatalities was very close to the average of 972 for the years 2000-2012.

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Construction industries accounted for 22 per cent of fatalities, with manufacturing was in second place with 19 per cent.

Health and social service industries accounted for the highest number of injuries on the job, according to the AWCBC. That's 17 per cent of the 245,365 workplace injuries in Canada in 2012.

Manufacturing was second  and construction third on the injuries graph.

Work-related injuries falling

The number of work-related injuries has fallen dramatically since the late 1980s, according to federal government and AWCBC statistics. In both 1986 and 1987, there were almost 50 work-related injuries per 1,000 employed workers in Canada, according to federal government calculations. By 2010 that number had fallen to about 15 per 1,000.

The AWCBC numbers, which only cover workplaces under the workers' compensation systems, suggest that ratio likely continued to drop in 2011 and 2012.

The labour movement attributes much of that drop to improving health and safety standards in the workplace.

Nevertheless, an average of 672 workers were injured every day on the job in Canada in 2012, as counted by the AWCBC.