This past week, 15-year-old Chris Lawrence was killed on the job at a gravel pit near Drumheller, Alberta. As the Alberta Federation of Labour points out, health and safety laws in the province remain weak and inadequate.
The problem of workplace safety remains a deadly problem across the country. The federal Tories have recently rolled back health and safety laws with Bill C-4. The death of Pascal Goulet on July 10 – the seventh mining death in Canada this year – underlines the Steelworkers’ call for a review of mining safety. Unions continue to push for an investigation into the outrageous failures of WorksafeBC around the deadly sawmill explosions that killed four in 2012.
A History of Struggle
The history of health and safety laws is one of workers’ struggle, not benevolent employers and government. In the interest of recovering this history, RankandFile.ca presents “Can’t Take No More”, a fast-paced story of occupational health and safety in the U.S. from the Industrial Revolution to the 1970s, narrated by the late great Studs Terkel. It was produced by the AFL-CIO and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Rare archival footage and photos illustrate the problems behind dramatic tragedies as well as the daily dangers that put workers at risk for long-term health problems. It also connects the health and safety movement with the civil rights and environmental movements.
In 1981, one of the first things the new Reagan administration was weaken OSHA’s efforts. All government copies of “Can’t Take No More” were recalled and any organization seeking government funding for a safety program from showing the film.