(Canadian OH&S News) — Slightly fewer employers in Nova Scotia — 107, compared to 113 in 2014 — will receive a surcharge next year, the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) has announced.
Each year, the WCB issues surcharges to employers whose claims costs are significantly and consistently higher than those of their industry peers. To be surcharged, the WCB said in a media release, a company’s claim costs must be at least three times its industry average, or at least 200 per cent higher, for at least four consecutive years. An industry’s rate is based on claims costs experience — the ratio of injury costs to payroll.
The good news is that employers have the opportunity to have refunded to them all or part of their surcharged premiums paid in the previous calendar year for “qualifying investments made in safety” during that same time period, the WCB reported. Ninety-two employers are eligible for refunds totalling $1.9 million. To date, $860,000 has been issued.
Despite the 107 surcharges for 2015, the average rate will remain unchanged at $2.65 per $100 of payroll, at which it has remained for the past several years. The WCB release said that rates were decreasing by 10 per cent or more in sectors such as crop farming, aquaculture, ready-mix concrete, interior finishing and specialty care homes. For example, the average rate of assessment for the province’s healthcare sector, which includes hospitals, specialty care homes and long-term care facilities, has declined by nearly 15 per cent over the last five years.
“If the industry didn’t make improvements, it would be paying roughly $8.6 million more in premiums today,” the WCB reported.
By contrast, sectors such as furniture manufacturing, wrecking and demolition, storage and warehousing, recycling and scrapyards, framing and the feed industry, are facing increases of 20 per cent or more in 2015.
Leo McKenna, the chief financial officer of the WCB, said that premium rates are responsive to a company’s safety performance — incentives for good performance and disincentives for poor performance. He pointed to the Nova Scotia Workplace Safety Strategy, which includes six priority areas: leadership, safety culture, small- and medium-sized businesses, education and training, inspection and enforcement, and performance management and measurement.
Tamara Gilley, director of public relations for Annapolis Valley Health (AVH), said that the organization intentionally integrates, aligns and embeds safety into the way it plans, evaluates, manages and leads: the way each team member supports safe, quality patient/client care, service delivery, themselves and their colleagues. For example, AVH and its over 1,700 employees have worked hard to create a return-to-work program that has not only improved morale within the organization, but has also worked to ensure that patients and members of the community receive consistent, high-quality healthcare.
“We have developed a structured approach to transitional duties throughout the organization that has resulted in significant reductions in time lost due to injury,” Gilley said. “Over the past 10 years, we have reduced our time-lost claims by over 58 per cent, which has fuelled an 83 per cent decrease in direct costs and an 80 per cent decrease in days lost since 2004,” she said, adding that AVH’s premium rates per $100 of payroll had decreased from $2.13 in 2009/2010 to $1.69 in 2012/2013.
For more information on the 2015 rates, visit http://www.wcb.ns.ca/wcbns/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=2243. A list of surcharged employers can be found at http://www.wcb.ns.ca/app/DocRepository/5/News/RateSurchargeList2015.pdf.