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Saskatchewan’s total workplace injury rate declines in 2014

| www.cos-mag.com

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) officially released its 2014 injury rates, revealing fewer workers are being hurt on the job.

The total injury rate for 2014 was 6.99 per cent, down from 7.8 per cent in 2013, despite an increase in the number of workers. In 2014, there were 402,894 workers covered by WCB, over 4,000 more workers than the previous year.

Phil Germain, the WCB's vice-president of prevention, attributes this marked improvement to the employers, workers and WorkSafe partners around the province who have made safety a core value in their workplaces.

In addition to improvements to the overall injury rates, the number of accepted time loss claims reported dropped from 10,116 in 2013 to 9,715 in 2014. Time loss injury rates dropped from 2.54 per cent in 2013 to 2.41 per cent in 2014.

“In 2014, 87 per cent of employers reached the Mission: Zero target. They had zero workplace injuries. Zero is possible,” Germain said. “What this result suggests is that Saskatchewan workers are safer on the job today than they ever have been.”

But Germain cautions there is a long way to go — the national time loss injury rate average is 1.65 per cent, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.

"While comparative data differs somewhat, Saskatchewan’s time loss injury rate is almost twice the national average," Germain said. "Other jurisdictions in Canada are also improving their safety records just like we are but we have a lot more ground to cover.”

In order to reduce Saskatchewan’s high workplace injury rate, the department of Occupational Health and Safety has adopted a new strategy that focuses on employers with the highest workplace injuries, said Deputy Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Mike Carr.

“Early results of this strategy are encouraging," he said. "Priority employers with approved safety plans are on track to achieve an 18 per cent reduction in workplace injuries and it is now clear that targeted intervention activities are reducing injuries in workplaces with high injury rates.”

Germain reinforced the need for workplaces across the province to adopt the goal of Mission: Zero.

“We need to continue to keep safety a priority in workplaces everywhere. We can’t afford to take short cuts because lives are literally at stake,” Germain said. “Any workplace fatality is unacceptable and an indication that more needs to be done to make workplaces in Saskatchewan safer. These are people, not statistics. They are husbands and wives and daughters and sons. They are why we need to achieve Mission: Zero.”

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