HALIFAX, April 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Fewer Nova Scotians were injured at work in 2012, marking the eighth consecutive year of decline in the number of people seriously hurt on the job.
In their Annual Report tabled April 10th, the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia reports that the province's workplace injury rate - the number of people per 100 covered workers who are injured on the job seriously enough to lose three or more days of work - stands at 1.96. It's a reduction from 2.02 in 2011, and the first time the number has been below 2 since 1995, when time-loss claims began being measured in this way. Since 2005, there has been a 30% decline in time-loss injuries.
There is also progress in returning Nova Scotians to work after an injury, although the average length of claims remains a challenge. Some 19,000 fewer working days were lost to injury in 2012, the equivalent of 52 working years.
"These results reflect a lot of hard work by many individuals and organizations across the province that have put their commitment to creating a safety culture into action," said Stuart MacLean, CEO of the WCB. "But there is still a lot of work to do. Nova Scotia will face significant workforce challenges in the years to come. To meet those challenges and be productive, workers and employers need to make health and safety a top priority."
The WCB also noted that while there were reductions in the number of new injuries, claims from previous years already in the system continue to highlight the legacy of workplace injury in our province. Recent declines are mainly from the more straightforward injuries that would have resulted in less complex claims. Overall, claim complexity and other issues like increasing health care costs remain ongoing concerns.
And while there were fewer workplace injuries last year, too many Nova Scotians did not come home from work. There were a total of 32 workplace fatalities in 2012. This represents an increase of five fatalities from 2011.
Of the 32 fatalities in 2012, ten Nova Scotians died on the job due to an acute traumatic event in the workplace. This represents an increase of four acute fatalities from 2011. One third of the acute fatalities occurred in fishing.
Twenty-two Nova Scotians died due to chronic or health related conditions. Of these 22 chronic workplace fatalities, nine died from occupational diseases due to workplace exposures in the past, and 13 died due to other health conditions, primarily cardiac in nature, which may or may not have been directly related to the work.
"This scale of tragedy is not only troubling, it is fundamentally unacceptable," says MacLean. "We are also struggling with the fact that so far in 2013, we've already experienced vast, deep, and tragic loss in our workplaces."
Already in 2013, there have been seven workplace fatalities in the fishing sector. Fishing, among other industries, will continue to be a primary area of focus for the Workers' Compensation Board and its safety partners.
According to the WCB, understanding the nature of chronic fatalities, and the connection to Nova Scotia's aging population and population health, will be important for making future improvements to workplace safety in the province.
Financially, the WCB reported a comprehensive financial income of $62 million in 2012, primarily due to better investment returns following several tumultuous years in investment market performance. This, along with operational improvements has helped the Board's progress toward achieving financial sustainability.
"The financial results achieved in 2012 position us well for our goal to retire the unfunded liability in about 10 years," says MacLean. "Our rate of return for 2012 was above our benchmark return, and the comprehensive financial gain means we can take a step toward financial sustainability. However, there is much to do to achieve this goal."
Continued progress, MacLean says, will come through further reduction in injury, and helping workers return to work in a safe and timely manner. Together with the Province of Nova Scotia, the WCB recently launched a five-year workplace safety strategy which aims to make Nova Scotia the safest place to work in Canada.
The Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia 2012 Annual Report is available at www.wcb.ns.ca.
About the WCB
The Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) is committed to keeping Nova Scotians safe and secure from workplace injury. The WCB provides workplace injury insurance for more than 18,000 employers, representing about 320,000 workers across the province. The WCB sets the standard for workplace injury insurance by informing and inspiring Nova Scotians in the prevention of workplace injury. If an injury occurs, we support those whose lives it touches by championing a timely return to safe and healthy work.
SOURCE: Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
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