Privacy practices at Nova Scotia's Workers Compensation Board (WCB) are set for an overhaul, following an investigation into a number of breaches at the board, according to a report from the Canadian OH&S News.
A report, released in November by the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Office (FOIPOP) in Halifax, contains 21 recommendations covering a wide array of areas. They include establishing a committee to oversee the implementation of best practices to safeguard workers' privacy, informing all workers who are impacted by privacy breaches, and recovering all leaked personal information. (WCxKit)
The WCB said it will implement all recommendations, of which seven will be put into practice immediately, with the remaining 14 adopted over a period of time, the report notes.
This marks the first time the Privacy Review Officer has completed a systemic review of a public body. The investigation was launched early this year after it was publicly reported that at least two separate individuals had received another WCB claimant's file when requesting their own. Most claimants' files include considerable personal information, particularly personal health information, notes a FOIPOP release.
Every year, the WCB processes close to 1.75 million transactions containing personally identifying information. "In that respect, 155 reported privacy breaches over approximately 32 months is a comparatively small number," of which more than 90 per cent of recorded breaches "have been assessed as low risk in accordance with our policy," the WCB was quoted as saying in the report.
All WCB employees are required to complete annual privacy training with a focus on containing breaches and how to rectify and learn from them to prevent recurrences, the release adds.
Other recommendations in the FOIPOP report includes the following: a Privacy Breach Advisory Committee be established; breach classifications be re-written for greater clarity; the amount of personal information disclosed in the board's day-to-day operations be scaled back; a privacy complaint policy be developed and made public; multiple identifiers in addition to the WCB claim number be used to mitigate the risk of error, and workers be informed of their right to file a complaint with the WCB if their privacy has been breached. (WCxKit)
The review office will monitor the WCB's implementation progress over the next year.
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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