The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) released its injury statistics, announcing that workplace injury rates decreased in 2020. The workplace total injury rate for 2020 was 4.46 per 100 workers, a 10 per cent decrease from 2019. From 2008 to 2020, the workplace total injury rate dropped by more than 56 per cent.
“Last year, fewer people and their families were affected because someone was hurt at work. Employers, workers, safety leaders and labour unions all around the province have worked diligently to bring down our injury rates,” said WCB chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky. “Further, 90 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces had zero injuries and zero fatalities, a slight increase over 88 per cent in 2019. Our workplace injury rate has decreased by more than 56 per cent since 2008. What this suggests is that we’ve made improvements, but we all have more work to do.”
In 2020, the Time Loss injury rate decreased to 1.78 per 100 workers, a decrease of 0.08 per 100 workers, or by 4.3 per cent, from the 2019 rate of 1.86 per 100 workers. The 2020 Time Loss injury rate is the lowest rate in more than a decade.
“Although the reductions in the Total injury and Time Loss injury rates are a step in the right direction,” said Minister Responsible for WCB, Don Morgan, “every workplace injury in Saskatchewan is one too many. We cannot become complacent in our efforts to make all workplaces safe.”
Claims have also decreased:
• Total claims accepted decreased by 16 per cent to 17,944 in 2020 from 21,473 in 2019. The total number of workers covered decreased to 402,306 in 2020 from 433,622 in 2019.
• Accepted No Time Loss claims decreased to 10,788 in 2020 from 13,415 in 2019.
• Accepted Time Loss claims decreased to 7,134 in 2020 from 8,036 in 2019.
Although Time Loss and Total injury rates have seen a slow and steady decline, there remains a consistent number of serious injuries and fatalities (approximately 2,500 annually) that are accepted by the WCB.
There were 34 workplace fatalities in 2020, compared to 36 in 2019. This is a decrease of six per cent. These deaths occurred in a variety of Saskatchewan industries.
“Each of the 34 deaths that occurred in 2020 has had a shattering impact on the loved one’s family and community,” said the WCB’s CEO Phil Germain. “We must continue to focus on preventing workplace deaths and serious injuries and eliminate this suffering in our province.”
WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, continued to implement initiatives outlined in the Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy, which launched in December 2019.
The strategy was developed by WorkSafe, along with employer and labour representatives, to prioritize and address the high-risk industries, occupations and the tasks within those industries that are resulting in these fatalities and serious injuries.
WorkSafe’s focus in 2020 was in the following eight areas: asbestos exposures, work-related motor vehicle crashes, firefighter cancer exposures, falls from heights (construction industry), health care, transportation, first responders (psychological injuries) and manufacturing (specifically hand injuries).
“The Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy is all about reducing the number of workers killed and seriously injured on the job,” said Germain. “In 2020, we added resources to the WorkSafe website, developed marketing campaigns and created partnerships with employers and organized labour with the common goal of reducing serious injuries. Working together, we can keep bringing our injury rates down and make sure all of our workers stay safe on the job so they can go home to their families.”