OHS Canada Magazine

Workplace injuries in Nova Scotia continue long-term downward trend

WCB Nova Scotia releases 2019 Annual Report


August 14, 2020
By OHS Canada
OHS Canada
Categories
Workers Compensation

Workplace injuries in Nova Scotia continued a long-term downward trend in both overall total time-loss injury volume and the per capita rate of injury, according to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia’s 2019 Annual Report.

There were 5,663 time-loss injuries for 2019, a slight decline from 5,819 in 2018, according to a WCB news release.

Measured as a rate per capita, there were 1.67 time-loss injuries per 100 covered employees. These are the lowest numbers on record since they have been measured this way.

“Nova Scotia continues to become a safer place to work,” said WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean. “However, when injuries do happen, they tend to be more complex, and it takes longer to achieve the healthy, safe return to work that is so important.”

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2019 Annual Report highlights:

  • number of time-loss claims – 5,663
  • time-loss claims per 100 covered workers – 1.67
  • composite Duration Index – 147
  • acute workplace fatalities – 5
  • chronic workplace fatalities (due to occupational diseases or other health issues) – 17
  • claim payments made – $252.7 million
  • funded Ratio – 96.5 per cent.

 

In 2019, the length of average claim saw a significant increase of 20 days from 2018, rising to 147 days.

Together with partners in workplaces and industry associations, WCB Nova Scotia will continue to encourage and support return-to-work programs through resources like Working to Well. A focused evaluation of our approach to return to work is part of the organization’s 2021 Operational Plan.

Decline in fatalities

There were 22 fatalities either at work or because of work in 2019.

Five Nova Scotians died due to acute, traumatic injuries on the job, five died due occupational illness stemming from workplace exposures in the past, and 12 died while at a work due to health conditions, which may or may not have been related to work.

This represents a decline in workplace tragedy from the year before.

“Each of these fatalities is a human story of loss, and each of them is a call to action for all of us to prevent workplace injury and illness,” says MacLean. “They underline the incredible importance of moving from simply knowing about workplace safety, to truly and deeply caring about it, on a human level.”

New system implementation

In 2019 WCB implemented new claims and assessment systems — the largest part of the organization’s long-term journey of transformation. The new systems allow new ways of connecting with workers and employers.

While there were challenges in the early days of adapting to the new systems, they position WCB for a more efficient future, with much more capacity for innovation.

Overall, WCB’s technological environment was part of the ability to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic in quickly shifting to remote work.

WCB Nova Scotia was a leader in the province’s response to the pandemic, supporting workers and employers across the province with awareness materials and deferring employer premium payments.

At the end of 2019, the WCB moved very close to eliminating the unfunded liability, achieving a funded percentage of 96.5 per cent. In the months since, the markets have declined, and the funded percentage reduced as of the end of Q1 2020. At 88 per cent, WCB is still well funded and well positioned overall for the future.