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Number of Nova Scotia workplace fatalities increased last year

Fourteen Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries at work
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Fourteen Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job in 2018. There were also 26 fatalities classified as chronic. Shutterstock.com

Workplace fatalities have increased in Nova Scotia in 2018, according to statistics WCB Nova Scotia and the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE) recently released.

Fourteen Nova Scotians died from acute traumatic injuries on the job. There were also 26 fatalities classified as chronic – 12 related to occupational diseases and 14 caused by health-related issues, such as heart attacks.

“These families across our province will never be the same – so many of these deaths are because of preventable incidents at work,” said Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia. “Although we continue to see reductions in overall workplace injury, this is a startling number of workplace fatalities. We must not become complacent.” 

The number of workplace fatalities serves as a reminder about the importance of workplace safety, he also said. 

Acute fatalities touched a variety of industries. The industries with the highest acute fatality counts included six people who drowned or were lost at sea in fishing, and three deaths in the construction industry. 

“Sadly in 2018, far too many Nova Scotia families were impacted by a workplace fatality,” said Labi Kousoulis, Labour and Advanced Education Minister. “The number of fatalities last year reminds us just how much work remains. We will continue to work closely with safety associations, employers and our partners to create a culture of safety in every workplace in Nova Scotia.” 

There was a significant increase in mental health-related claims in 2018. Time-loss claims for psychological injuries went up almost 50 per cent over 2017 and are over three times what they were in 2014. This includes claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and all other psychological injuries.

MacLean said the statistics show how workplace injury is changing. Claims today are often more complex, requiring different levels of service. The population is older, and claims are much more likely to include a mix of physical injury and mental health considerations.

Other statistics released include: registered claims had increased in 2018 from 2017 (24, 584 from 23, 952); the time-loss injury rate had improved (1.72 per 100 covered workers in 2018 from 1.76 per 100 covered workers in 2017); and the index used to measure average claim duration increased to 127 days in 2018, from 117 days in 2017. 

“As we continue on our modernization journey, our improved systems and processes will better serve a changing workforce. The changes will mean better outcomes for workers and for employers, allowing us to continue reducing the impact of workplace injury,” he said. 

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