Workplace injury causes remarkable loss to individual workers, their families, the community, and society. This loss is not only physical and financial, but also psychological and emotional. The prevention and compensation of workplace injury have thus been important issues for both academia and policy-makers. The purpose of The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada, written by Bob Barnetson, is to study how the Canadian government averts and compensates workplace injury, as well as who profits, and how.
The first four chapters of the book present study of government’s injury-prevention efforts. The author deduces that the current injury-prevention strategies taken by employers and government are not valuable, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws not succeed to make workplaces more safe, and employers are able to shift costs to workers through injury. The next three chapters of the book analyzes the compensation injury system in workplaces in Canada and reaches the conclusion that workers’ compensation does not fully reimburse workers for their injuries.
Chapter five describes how workers’ compensation in Canada came to be, and how it theoretically benefits the employers, workers, and the government. Chapter six discusses the inclination of workers’ compensation boards to limit benefit entitlements and therefore employer costs. Chapter seven investigates how workers’ compensation is used to deal with workers and to limit worker power. The book concludes with Chapter eight.
The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada doesn’t merely tell us that workers compensation doesn’t really help workers; it tells us why it doesn’t help and, even more importantly, how come no one fixes it? Mr. Barnetson states in his book, that in most cases, a “disturbing pattern of bias against workers emerges (Barnetson, 2010, p. 154). ” Thousands of Canadian families have been thrown into poverty by system that denies them support. The Worker’s Compensation system. One of the strengths of this book, is that Mr.
Barnetson does not draw any analytical punches. Writing within a traditional Marxist framework, Mr. Barnetson is able to locate both occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation laws and regulations that result from class compromise. This would be: at the turn of the 20th century an increasing number of workplace accidents were initiating dissatisfaction with the productions systems in place. This unhappiness threatened to explode into the political arena and therefore endangered the legitimacy of the Canadian capitalist system.
So, the provincial governments began passing ‘workmen’s compensation’ laws. These laws were to shift attention away from the unsafe and unhealthy labour processes that caused these accidents and injuries while representing a real victory for injured workers and their supporters. Also, they were used “to put in place a compensation adjudication process that spread out accidents and injury such that the causes of accidents were obscured and normalized while injured workers were left to confront a system that individualized and depoliticized their claims (Storey, 2012, p. ). ” However, there is one noteworthy criticism. There are places in the book where Professor Barnetson tends to extrapolate or simplify based off one experience in Alberta, or a single study from Ontario or Quebec. It must be understood that there are significant differences between provincial occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation legal systems. This does not mean that it is believed that Mr. Barnetson is unaware of such difference.
It is to say, though, that keeping dissimilarities in mind can be of highest importance as is the case in the current context. For example, “the Ontario government and its workers’ compensation board are using the financial status of a number of western Canadian workers’ compensation boards to justify fundamental changes in its funding formulae; changes that injured worker advocates claim will have a devastating effect on the level and duration of benefits awarded to injured workers (Storey, 2012, p. ). ” Lastly, in his efforts to be all-inclusive in his analysis of the political economy of workplace injury in Canada, it is felt that Professor Barnetson moves along so quickly that it feels like he may lose his audience. If we are to believe his point that injured workers are a minor group who are unable to make specific changes that will better the system, then it is crucial that exercises in political education, are patient with their readers’ efforts, in order to grasp the root of the concept.
Bibliography Song, X. (2012). The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada (review). Canadian Public Policy38(1), 115-116. University of Toronto Press. Retrieved October 8, 2012, from Project MUSE database. Storey, Robert. (2012, March 22). Bob Barnetson, The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada The Free Library. (2012). Retrieved October 07, 2012 from http://www. thefreelibrary. com/Bob Barnetson, The Political Economy of Workplace Injury in Canada. -a0298292679