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Workplace injuries decline to all-time low in Nova Scotia

| www.cos-mag.com

Fewer workers were injured on the job in 2014, and four of the five largest industries in the province saw improvements in their injury rate.

These results are all signs of continued progress towards building a stronger culture of safety in Nova Scotia, says the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB).

In its 2014 annual report, the WCB reports that the province’s time-loss workplace injury rate dropped to 1.82 time-loss injuries per 100 covered workers, the lowest since WCB first began tracking this measure.

There were also signs of change across several sectors: The injury rate in construction, the province’s fourth largest sector, fell from 2.25 in 2013 to 1.90 in 2014.

In the fishing industry there was improvement not only in preventing workplace injury but in managing the impact of injury. The number of days lost from work due to workplace injury in the fishing industry declined by 12,769 days in 2014 compared to 2013, which is about the same as roughly 35 people working full time for a year. That’s particularly encouraging because the industry also saw growth in assessable payroll.

"The conversation in our province is changing when it comes to workplace safety, as people decide that work should only be done if it can be done safely. Workplaces are putting programs, tools and resources in place to make sure Nova Scotians return home safely at the end of the work day, and we’re seeing focused efforts in industries and sectors to ensure injury prevention and return to work are high priorities," said Stuart MacLean, CEO of the WCB.

For the third consecutive year, the WCB also reported a positive comprehensive income that will reduce the unfunded liability by $97.8 million and improve the funding position from 71 per cent to 76.9 per cent funded.

The collaborative work with industry, labour groups, safety associations, government and workplaces to support the goals of the Workplace Safety Strategy for Nova Scotians were among the notable achievements in 2014. This included focused work with partners and industry to develop a fishing safety action plan, the development of a workplace safety tool kit focused on prevention and return-to-work resources for small and medium businesses, and collaborative programs in the healthcare sector to reduce soft tissue injuries among health-care workers.

"I'm encouraged by the progress that's been made, progress that's been largely driven by employers, workers, and safety partners" said Kelly Regan, minister of labour and advanced education. "Working together, we’ll continue to promote the importance of safety in workplaces across the province making safety their top priority.”

The 2014 results also identified the need for more collaborative work to support safe and timely return to work after an injury. Although it remains below historical levels, the amount of time injured workers spend off the job after injury increased from 99 days in 2013 to 102 days in 2014. The number of time-loss days paid per 100 covered workers also stayed the same for the second straight year at 226 days.

While there are opportunities in many sectors, the health and social services industry, the province’s largest sector, accounted for the highest volume of time-loss injuries at 1,586 in 2014, which is more than twice as many as the next closest sector.

"Together with our partners, we remain committed to our vision of a Nova Scotia safe and secure from workplace injury and
its impact. Nova Scotia can be better, and we all have a role to play in achieving the goal of making our province the safest place to work in Canada. This includes continued commitment to injury prevention and renewed focus in supporting safe and timely return to work when an injury does occur," said MacLean.

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