WCB Nova Scotia’s (Canada) 2015 Annual Report, Leading Through Change, tells the story of a province with long-term progress in its workplace safety culture, but with much opportunity to do even better.
Nova Scotia workers and employers registered fewer claims with the WCB in 2015 compared to the year before. Looking back further, there are thousands fewer claims than there were a decade ago, and hundreds of thousands fewer days lost to workplace injury.
Because of that progress, and positive investment returns, the WCB’s unfunded liability was reduced in 2015. In the early 1990s, the WCB had just 27 percent of the money owed to workers and their families into the future – today, that number is above 80 percent.
But while the total number of claims decreased, 61 more of those claims led to time away from work compared to the year before. This increase came primarily from injuries related to lifting and moving people in long-term care and home-care – the healthcare sector overall has more than double the number of time-loss injuries than any other, and it is the next major prevention focus for the WCB and its partners. There were also more serious slips and falls than usual due to the icy, snowy winter months in early 2015.
Workplace Injuries Still Taking Their Toll
Most importantly, workplace injury continued to take too great of a human toll on workers and their families in 2015. Eight people died in acute workplace tragedies, an increase from five in 2014. There were also 19 chronic fatalities due to health, and occupational disease, compared to 14 in 2014.
There are also challenges in the amount of time lost to workplace injury. It takes longer, on average, for Nova Scotia’s workers to return to work than in many other Canadian provinces. The average claim duration increased in 2015, driven by a number of factors including complex claims and a changing workforce demographic.
These examples of workplace injury’s impact underscore the importance of progress being made under the province’s Workplace Safety Strategy. The Fishing Safety Now plan is symbolic of an industry seeing a cultural refresh, and will make fishing safer for future generations. Last year also saw the establishment of the Nova Scotia Health and Safety Leadership Charter, a major safety leadership conference, and the introduction of new tools for small business.
2015 at a glance:
- Slightly fewer Nova Scotians were injured at work compared to 2014. Registered claims decreased to 23,933 from 24,505.
- There were eight acute workplace fatalities in 2015, compared to five in 2014, 17 in 2013, and 10 in 2012.
- There were 19 chronic fatalities in 2015, due to disease and health problems, compared to 14 in 2014, 17 in 2013, and 22 in 2012.
- The WCB reported a comprehensive total income of $72.6 million, moving to 80.6 percent funded. It was 27 percent funded in the early 1990s.
- There were 6,014 time-loss claims, up from 5,953 in 2014. Time-loss injuries are still 34 per cent lower than a decade ago.
- The injury rate increased slightly to 1.84 injuries per 100 covered workers, still among the lowest levels since we began tracking this measure.
- Sprains and strains remain the most common type of time-loss injury at 64 percent.
- Back injuries accounted for 30 per cent of all time-loss claims.
- Lifting and moving people in the healthcare industry prove the single greatest source of time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia.
- The injury rate in manufacturing, the third largest sector in Nova Scotia, fell notably to 1.80 per 100 covered workers from 2.05 in 2014.
- Average claim duration in Nova Scotia increased to 108 days.
- The fishing industry has seen a decrease in injury rate of 33 percent since 2011.
Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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