Workplace injuries that lead to time off work remained steady for the most part in 2017, according to statistics released by the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia last week.
The 2017 time-loss injury rate of 1.76 per 100 covered workers represents a slight increase from last year, when the injury rate was 1.74.
"The impact of workplace injury in our province in 2017 shows us there's been long-term progress, but that we still need to do more to prevent injuries and fatalities," said Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia.
The WCB received a total of 23,952 claims last year, a slight decrease from 24,311 the previous year. These include all workplace injuries in covered workplaces, most of which required some health care but didn't result in time lost from work.
There were five workplace fatalities in the province last year, the statistics point out. Another 16 people died as a result of occupational diseases and other health-related issues, such as heart attacks suffered while at work.
One of the five acute workplace deaths occurred in manufacturing, two in construction, one in fishing and one in the retail food and beverage sector. Although the number of acute fatalities has been trending downward in recent years.
Some industries, like Nova Scotia's fishing sector, have shown significant progress in their safety cultures. Others, such as the long-term care and home-care sectors, have opportunity to create safer workplaces. WCB is working with government, stakeholders, workers and employers across the province to continue to improve workplace safety, especially in high-risk sectors.
"We need to continue our focus on high-risk industries, we need to encourage more leaders to step forward and we need to work together in new ways to reduce the risk of injury and help workers safely return to work," he said.
A measure of the average length of a claim, the duration index, increased in 2017 to 117 days. Total workplace injury claims are down, while the number of compensable time loss claims rose slightly.
"The total number of days lost to workplace injury is much lower than it once was, but we still need to develop long-term strategies that support improvement in sectors where workers are experiencing more injuries, like long-term care and home care," said MacLean.
The number of women injured at work rose to 48.1 per cent of all injuries, compared to 46.9 per cent in 2016. More than half of all workplace injuries are suffered by those 40 to 60 years old.
"Claims today tend to be more complex, and workers need different levels of service and support," he said.
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