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Nova Scotia reports fewer injuries overall, but more work time lost

| www.cos-mag.com

Nova Scotia workers and employers registered fewer claims with the Workers’ Compensation Board in 2015 compared to the year before. 

But while the total number of claims decreased from 24,505 to 23,933, there was an increase in time-loss claims from 5,953 to 6,014. This increase came primarily from injuries related to lifting and moving people in long-term care and home-care — the health-care sector overall has more than double the number of time-loss injuries than any other, according to the WCB. There were also more serious slips and falls than usual due to the icy, snowy winter months in early 2015.

The injury rate increased slightly to 1.84 injuries per 100 covered workers in 2015, still among the lowest levels since the WCB began tracking this measure. Sprains and strains remain the most common type of time-loss injury at 64 per cent. Back injuries accounted for 30 per cent of all time-loss claims.

Most importantly, workplace injury continued to take too great of a human toll on workers and their families in 2015, said the WCB. 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 to 108 days 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, said the WCB. The fishing industry has seen a decrease in injury rate of 33 per cent since 2011.

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.

“Our 2015 results demonstrate that as a province we still have work to do,” said WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean.  “Work is healthy, and together with our partners, we remain committed to the vision of the province’s Workplace Safety Strategy, to become the safest place to work in Canada.”

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