Workers' Compensation Safety Board of Nova Scotia

WCB Nova Scotia reports fewer injuries overall, but more work time lost (Apr 29/16)

Report released today also outlines progress toward full funding

For immediate release
April 29, 2016

HALIFAX, NSWCB Nova Scotia’s 2015 Annual Report, Leading Through Change, tells the story of a province with long-term progress in its workplace safety culture, but with much opportunity to do even better.

Nova Scotia workers and employers registered fewer claims with the WCB in 2015 compared to the year before. Looking back further, there are thousands fewer claims than there were a decade ago, and hundreds of thousands fewer days lost to workplace injury.

Because of that progress, and positive investment returns, the WCB’s unfunded liability was reduced in 2015. In the early 1990s, the WCB had just 27 per cent of the money owed to workers and their families into the future – today, that number is above 80 per cent.

But while the total number of claims decreased, 61 more of those claims led to time away from work compared to the year before. This increase came primarily from injuries related to lifting and moving people in long-term care and home-care – the healthcare sector overall has more than double the number of time-loss injuries than any other, and it is the next major prevention focus for the WCB and its partners.  There were also more serious slips and falls than usual due to the icy, snowy winter months in early 2015.

Most importantly, workplace injury continued to take too great of a human toll on workers and their families in 2015. Eight people died in acute workplace tragedies, an increase from five in 2014. There were also 19 chronic fatalities due to health, and occupational disease, compared to 14 in 2014.

There are also challenges in the amount of time lost to workplace injury. It takes longer, on average, for Nova Scotia’s workers to return to work than in many other Canadian provinces. The average claim duration increased in 2015, driven by a number of factors including complex claims and a changing workforce demographic.

These examples of workplace injury’s impact underscore the importance of progress being made under the province’s Workplace Safety Strategy. The Fishing Safety Now plan is symbolic of an industry seeing a cultural refresh, and will make fishing safer for future generations. Last year also saw the establishment of the Nova Scotia Health and Safety Leadership Charter, a major safety leadership conference, and the introduction of new tools for small business.

“Our 2015 results demonstrate that as a province we still have work to do,” said WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean.  “Work is healthy, and together with our partners, we remain committed to the vision of the province’s Workplace Safety Strategy, to become the safest place to work in Canada."

“In the three years since the Workplace Safety Strategy was launched, we’ve worked with our partners to introduce new programs, add resources, and offer more education and training, and we’re seeing improvements,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. “Other areas need some more attention. Together, we’ll address those issues with the same collaborative approach we’ve used to shift the culture and make progress in other areas.”

In 2015, WCB Nova Scotia also began a business transformation that will improve performance, ensuring the needs of stakeholders are met today and into the future.

“The world is changing rapidly when it comes to technology. With this comes changing expectations of the people we serve. WCB must become more modern, efficient, and relevant in supporting Nova Scotia employers and their employees as we work together to create the conditions for success,” said MacLean.

2015 Annual Report - Leading Through Change

2015 at a glance:

  • Slightly fewer Nova Scotians were injured at work compared to 2014. Registered claims decreased to 23,933 from 24,505.
  • There were eight acute workplace fatalities in 2015, compared to five in 2014, 17 in 2013, and 10 in 2012.
  • There were 19 chronic fatalities in 2015, due to disease and health problems, compared to 14 in 2014, 17 in 2013, and 22 in 2012.
  • The WCB reported a comprehensive total income of $72.6 million, moving to 80.6 per cent funded. It was 27 per cent funded in the early 1990s.
  • There were 6,014 time-loss claims, up from 5,953 in 2014. Time-loss injuries are still 34 per cent lower than a decade ago.
  • The injury rate increased slightly to 1.84 injuries per 100 covered workers, still among the lowest levels since we began tracking this measure.
  • Sprains and strains remain the most common type of time-loss injury at 64 per cent.
  • Back injuries accounted for 30 per cent of all time-loss claims.
  • Lifting and moving people in the healthcare industry is the single greatest source of time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia.
  • The injury rate in manufacturing, the third largest sector in Nova Scotia, fell notably to 1.80 per 100 covered workers from 2.05 in 2014.
  • Average claim duration in Nova Scotia increased to 108 days.
  • The fishing industry has seen a decrease in injury rate of 33 per cent since 2011.

 

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Definitions:

  • Acute fatality: caused by traumatic injuries at the workplace.
  • Chronic fatality: caused by occupational diseases due to workplace exposures in the past, or health conditions, primarily cardiac events which may or may not have been directly related to work.
  • Registered claims: total amount of claims, regardless of whether or not they resulted in a worker losing time from work. 
  • Time-loss claims: total amount of claims serious enough to result in a worker missing three days or more from their job.
  • Injury rate: the number of people per 100 covered workers who are injured on the job seriously enough to lose three or more days of work.