08/25/2016 17:35 EDT | Updated 08/26/2017 01:12 EDT

Saskatchewan labour group says fewer inspectors cause of work deaths, injuries

A Saskatchewan labour group says a spate of workplace-related accidents that include two deaths this month is a result of government cutbacks.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich says the province has seen the workforce grow over the last few years, but the number of inspectors hasn't kept pace.

This week, a 27-year-old man died on the job at an oilfield site near Alameda.

One man died and one was seriously injured at separate incidents this month at the Agrium potash mine near Vanscoy.

Hubich says two years ago, the province had more than 50 inspectors to visit work sites and assess how safe they are, but says now the government lists only 27 inspectors on its website.

The Saskatchewan Party government disputes Hubich's statements, saying there are currently 55 inspectors, three more than 2007, and the worker injury rate dropped to 6.19 per cent in 2015, compared to 9.87 per cent in 2007.

Random inspections make up about 25 per cent of all inspections, according to the province's statistics, while the rest are aimed at those companies with the worst injury rates.

Hubich said that means most employers are being notified by OHS before a visit, giving companies enough of a heads-up to correct any issues.

Ultimately, Hubich said the onus is on the employer.

"The responsibility to make sure that the workplace is healthy and safe rests with the employer, and if they're not doing their job then that's when people get hurt and that's when people die," he explained.

"The consequence of not doing better is another young worker who's killed and leaves a partner without a husband and two kids without a dad."