WorkSafeNB improves privacy protection for injured workers

New Brunswick's workers' compensation agency, WorkSafeNB, has issued apologies to more than 3,000 workers for a breach of their personal information in 2014.
The agency gave a USB drive to a polling firm that it hired to survey injured workers. While some of the information was necessary to conduct the survey, personal information about the specifics of workers' accidents and claims were also included. The Office of the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner investigated the issue after receiving a complaint from a worker.

In light of breaches, WorkSafeNB has announced several new measures to further protect privacy of New Brunswick’s injured workers.

“At WorkSafeNB, privacy and confidentiality of information has always been a fundamental principle,” said Gerard Adams, WorkSafeNB president and CEO. “Our employees strive every day to ensure personal information is protected and given, with proper consent, only to those who are entitled. These new safeguards will help us ensure that protection.”

The changes include the appointment of a privacy officer; an updated privacy policy approved by WorkSafeNB’s board of directors; and creation of a committee, including legal and operational staff members, to monitor and address privacy issues.

WorkSafeNB will also issue quarterly reports on privacy issues to the executive management team. All staff members will undergo improved privacy awareness training, which includes ongoing privacy training for all staff and privacy awareness orientation for every new staff member.

The agency will also be putting a plain language guide for injured workers and employers regarding privacy on WorkSafeNB’s website.

WorkSafeNB is also currently redrafting the consent agreement on WorkSafeNB’s Form 67 ? Report of Accident or Occupational Disease and adding a note on Form 67 and WorkSafeNB’s online privacy policy to advise workers that it shares limited personal information for the purpose of conducting surveys to evaluate and improve our health-care programming.