Workplace injury in Nova Scotia reached a historic low last year. In its 2016 annual report, WCB Nova Scotia reports 5,847 time-loss claims, compared to 6,014 the previous year. The province’s workplace injury rate dropped to 1.74, the lowest it has been since the WCB started measuring time-loss injuries in this manner.
“Our time-loss injury rate in Nova Scotia has been improving every year for the past decade,” said Stuart MacLean, WCB Nova Scotia CEO. “There are also thousands fewer claims than there were 10 years ago, and close to 300,000 fewer days lost to workplace injury. That’s great progress, but there is still a lot more work to do.”
The report indicates that it’s taking longer for workers who are hurt on the job to make a safe and healthy return to the workplace. In 2016, the composite duration index, a measure of how long workers are off the job due to injury, increased to 110 days. While challenges in reducing durations are not unique to Nova Scotia, the province has one of the highest claim duration rates in Canada. Durations are affected by a number of factors, including claim complexity, population health and an aging workforce.
There were two acute fatalities in 2016 — one on a construction site and one at a sawmill. There were eight acute fatalities the previous year. There were also 18 chronic fatalities due to health problems and occupational disease in 2016, compared with 19 the previous year.
The positive trends in commercial fishing continued in 2016. Injuries in the sector were down and no one drowned or was lost at sea.
Health and social services did not fare so well. In particular, there are challenges in long-term care and home care. About nine out of every 100 home care workers and five out of every 100 nursing home workers suffers a time-loss injury on the job — primarily related to lifting and moving people. Long-term care and home care account for less than 30 per cent of the overall health-care payroll, but 60 per cent of time-loss claims.
WCB Nova Scotia is part of a multi-stakeholder group working to develop a safety action plan for health care and community services, with a focus on nursing homes and home care.
“Our 2016 results demonstrate that as a province we’ve made progress, but we continue to have challenges,” said MacLean. “With our partners, we are committed to reducing the human and financial toll of workplace injury in our province.”