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City of Saskatoon saves nearly $1 million in productivity time

(Canadian OH&S News)


(Canadian OH&S News)

The City of Saskatoon has saved an estimated $900,000 in lost productivity time over the last five years, according to a recent report.

The health and safety absenteeism report, presented to the city’s executive committee on Sept. 3, found that days lost due to occupational injury have decreased by more than 3,800 in the last five years, resulting in savings of approximately $900,000. As well, as a result of the reduction in the number of occupational injuries and in the duration of these injuries, workers’ compensation costs dropped by about $800,000 since 2008, the report went on to say.

“We’re proud to see these outcomes,” said Kim Matheson, the city’s occupational health and safety manager, adding that oh&s is a top priority for Saskatoon. “The city strives to make sure we support employees struggling with injury or illness, but at the same time ensures workplace absenteeism is monitored and managed.”

The report tracked and reported absenteeism in three main categories: periodic (less than 10 days for the same illness or injury); ongoing medical conditions (10 days or more); and occupational injuries/illnesses. Using public sector statistics from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey as a benchmark, the study compared incidents and numbers of days lost in Saskatoon to the national average for public sector workers.

It found that the average number of days lost was well below the national average — 7.8 days for city employees compared to 10.9 days in the national public sector. The average number of incidents was also much lower for city employees — three compared to eight in the national public sector.

Other findings include:

* The city recorded an increase in the total number of short-term absenteeism hours, from 148,201 in 2008 to 161,381 in 2012;

* There was an increase in the duration of injury (days lost due to workplace injury) in 2012 (3,556) compared to that of 2011 (3,121), “largely in part to several employees requiring surgeries, which typically require a longer recovery time;”

* Workers’ Compensation Board costs, comprised of wage loss replacement, medical costs, physical rehabilitation and pension, decreased from more than $1.8 million in 2008 to just over $1 million in 2012;

* Despite the reduction in workers’ compensation costs and duration, the city’s premiums have increased from approximately $2.1 million in 2008 to $2.7 million in 2012. Premiums are based on the assessable payroll of the organization; and

* In 2012, 584 employees — or 20 per cent of the workforce — had zero incidents of absenteeism.

The report came on the heels of another survey from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in July; this survey found that federal government employees took an average of 17.9 paid and unpaid days of sick leave in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, compared to employees working outside of government, who took only 6.7 sick days during the same period.

The survey examined 20 federal organizations; employees at Veterans Affairs Canada took an average of 24.2 sick days during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, while Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada employees averaged 11.5 days, the lowest of all departments.

“We’re facing an epidemic of sick leave abuse amongst government employees and it needs to be stopped,” charged Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Thomas said he is pleased by the federal government’s recent announcement that it plans to tackle high rates of absenteeism by modernizing the government’s disability insurance plans by providing seamless integration between the short-term and long-term disability plans.