Nova Scotia’s workplace injury rate seeing 'continued progress': WCB

But it’s taking longer for those who are hurt to return to work



There was "continued progress" in reducing Nova Scotia workplace injuries in the second quarter of 2017, according to WCB Nova Scotia’s latest Report to the Community.


The province had an injury rate of 1.72 per 100 covered employees, compared with 1.74 at the end of 2016.


“There are thousands fewer claims than there were a decade ago,” said Stuart MacLean, CEO of WCB Nova Scotia. “But there is still a lot of work to do.” 


In Nova Scotia, there were 2,760 time-loss injuries from January to June of this year. During the same period in 2016, there were 2,865 injuries. In 2016, WCB reported a total of 5,847 time-loss injuries, compared to 6,014 in 2015.


But the injuries that are occurring are having an increasing impact. Across the province, it’s taking longer for workers who are hurt on the job to return to work. The composite duration index, a measure of how long workers are off the job due to injury, has climbed to 115 days, up from 110 at the end of 2016.


Although the impact is still less than it once was — more than 400,000 fewer working days were lost to workplace injury in 2016 than in 2005, for example — the increase in time off the job is concerning, said the WCB.


“We’ve made some progress in injury prevention,” said MacLean. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing the opposite trend when it comes to claim durations.”


Nova Scotia has one of the highest duration rates in Canada. Workplace injuries are often more complex today than in the past — many of the more straightforward injuries that once occurred are being prevented. The problem is also compounded by overall population health and an aging workforce, the WCB said..


The WCB is responding with an increased focus on return-to-work, vocational rehabilitation and new programs to support workers, employers and service providers. There is targeted engagement of workplaces and industry sectors to improve return-to-work programming.


“We’re working with our partners on a long-term strategy to make the home care and long-term care sectors safer for workers,” said MacLean. “Addressing health and safety issues for those who are caring for others is a priority.”


Currently, almost one in 10 home care workers suffers a time-loss injury on the job. Most of these injuries are sustained lifting and moving people during care.