Accueil » 40-3 ( 1985) » Les accidents industriels au Canada: le portrait d'une décennie

Les accidents industriels au Canada: le portrait d'une décennie

Bernard Brody, Paul Rohan et Louise Rompré


Dans la décennie 1971-1980, les accidents industriels au Canada ont connu une très forte croissance. Pareillement, les couts totaux (directs et indirects) ont fait un bond prodigieux: ils ont quadruple en dollars courants et double en dollars constants. Ceci, en dépit du mouvement populaire de conscientisation en matière de sante et de sécurité du travail et des efforts déployés par les autorités compétentes pour contrer le phénomène envahissant des accidents professionnels.


Industrial accidents constitute a serious problem in Canada, which despite increased government intervention, degenerated over the decade 1971-1980. While throughout the nation occupational health and safety legislation was substantially revised in the 1970's and public awareness of the dangers increased, paradoxically, estimates of total costs in 1980 stood at over $6.7 billion, a rise of 320% in the ten years. This represented 2.3% of GNP and $5,560. per claim or $745. per employed worker. Even after adjustment for inflation, costs doubled in the period. There were 1,208,000 occupational injuries in 1980 or 52% above the 1971 level. When the increase in the labour force is accounted for, accidents per employed worker still rose by 16%. At the end of the decade some 5,000 workers were injured each day compared to just over 3,000 ten years earlier.

Disabling work injuries, those with at least one day's absence following the day of the incident, as a proportion of the nondisabling injuries were 63°/o in 1971, but 88% in 1980. Only industrial fatalities showed any improvement over the period, but remained close to the mean of 1,000 per year throughout the 1970's.

While the "direct" costs are fairly "visible", "indirect" costs are not usually captured by conventional accoundng procedures. The literature, going back to the 1920's, reveals that the indirect costs are several times the levels of the direct costs. One finds values of the multiple indirect costs/direct costs in the range of from 3 to 6. The present authors use a conservative estimate of 4.

Besides the theory of indirect costs other analytical frameworks dealing with costs and prevention can be identified. Among them are those seeking the (economic) value of human life and cost/benefit analysis, the latter imputing these across the various agents involved in occupational accidents. Theoretical Systems for explaining and predicting industrial accidents are however still in an embryonic stage and more resources, human and financial, must be allocated to research in order to reduce the incidence and control the costs of work injuries.