No Safe Use

No Safe Use

Organisation: The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Publication Date: 04/01/2015


Investigation of the year (small newsroom, large newsroom). This project explored the top cause of workplace deaths in Canada: exposure to asbestos, and the reasons why so many workers continue to be needlessly exposed to the dangerous carcinogen. It was entirely data driven. We used national workers’ compensation data as a starting point, to understand what is causing on-the-job deaths in Canada. We matched that with Statistics Canada data on cancer deaths over the past decade. We then incorporated Statistics Canada international trade data to show that – contrary to the popular perception – this country continues to import and export asbestos products. We also incorporated research on worker exposure to show who is most at risk. The workers' compensation data has never been published in full before in Canada, and we posted links to all of the data sets so that researchers could delve into the numbers themselves. The first story – which also told the stories of people sickened by asbestos exposure with video and audio – was published online June 13, 2014 and in print the next day. It was followed by an explanation of the data and its limitations on June 16, along with a week’s worth of coverage that generated high reader engagement and responses from across Canada and around the world. During that week, the issue was raised by the opposition in the House of Commons. We published subsequent pieces later in the year, and will continue to follow the story this year. Related links are here:

Technologies used for this project:

HTML5: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Responsive web design: This data journalism online feature was designed to accommodate any device or screen size including mobile phones, tablets and desktop/laptop computers. This is achieved through CSS media queries and device detection. D3: Library for manipulating documents based on data to create visualizations using HTML, SVG and CSS. MediaElement: HTML5 video/audio player with shims that mimic the HTML5 MediaElement API, enabling a consistent UI in all browsers. Waypoints: Library to allow for script execution based on scroll position of page elements. Picturefill: Polyfill that enables support for the HTML ‘picture’ element and associated features in browsers that do not yet support them. Brightcove: Streaming video platform. jQuery: JavaScript library to simplify client-side scripting.
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