Chris Brown & Ed Stelmach (Hero & Goat)

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SAFETY HERO OF THE WEEK: CHRIS BROWN

Does it get any better than rescuing children trapped inside a burning building? In fact, it does when the rescuer isn’t a professional firefighter trained to carry out such rescues but a neighbour.

And that’s why we name Christopher Brown of Breightmet, UK (near the city of Bolton), Safety Hero of the Week.

Fire broke out in the home of a family from Lithuania this morning at 6:30. Firefighters rescued the parents from the upstairs bedroom and led their 10- and 12-year old children out through the front door.

Unfortunately, 2 of 6 family members remained unaccounted for. The couple’s oldest boys, ages 14 and 15, had fled the fire from a skylight and were trapped on the slippery, cold roof. Mr. Brown, who was awakened by the blaze, climbed to the roof of his own house and managed to pull the barefoot boys across to safety.

“The man is a real hero,” said Bolton fire station commander Brian Wiggins of Mr. Brown.

No argument here.

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SAFETY GOAT OF THE WEEK: ALBERTA PREMIER ED STELMACH

At first blush, the decision of the Alberta government to publish individual employers’ lost time injury rates and other workers’ compensation data online is a heroic one. Making these data available to the public will pressure employers to do more to prevent injury.

At least that’s the theory.

But there’s a slight problem. You see, workers’ compensation is a no fault system that provides coverage to workers who suffer work-related injuries regardless of who’s actually to blame for those injuries. In other words, companies can do everything right and still experience workplace injuries through no fault of their own.

So while it sounds like holding employers’ feet to the fire, publishing workers’ comp data is actually likely to present a distorted view and cast discredit on companies that don’t necessarily deserve it.

Making the decision to publish the workers’ comp data even harder to take is the fact that it comes on the heels of public reports criticizing the Stelmach Government for its lax enforcement of OHS laws and deliberate attempts to understate the amount of workplace injuries actually occurring in the province.

Publishing the workers’ comp data feels like an attempt by the government to demonstrate that it’s “getting tough” on workplace safety and shift the spotlight to employers.

Thus, while it might serve some beneficial purposes, the decision to put these data online is a political one based on the faulty and deceitful premise that workers’ comp injury claims are a fair way to measure a company’s commitment to and effectiveness in protecting workers’ safety.

For that reason, we name Ed Stelmach Safety Bum of the Week.