The number of workplace fatalities jumped by 78 per cent in 2018 according to the latest numbers released by the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).
Figures released on Thursday show there were 48 workplace fatalities in Saskatchewan in 2019, well above the 27 fatalities in 2017. Saskatchewan has averaged 37 annual workplace fatalities over the last 15 years.
WCB CEO Peter Federko said it’s disheartening to see such a high number of fatalities in 2018, especially since 2017 marked the smallest number of deaths over the past 15 years.
“This is devastating for our province,” Federko said in a media release. “Behind every statistic is a loved one who will never come home to their family. The impact of losing someone dear to us is devastating.”
Federko added that the WCB plans to partner with the University of Regina and University of Saskatchewan on multiple research projects to help decrease the number of workplace deaths.
The top causes of death were occupational diseases and motor vehicle collisions.
The number of workplace injuries also rose, but only slightly. Saskatchewan’s injury rate was 5.44 per 100 workers in 2018, a 3.6 per cent increase over the year before. Total accepted claims also increased from 22,247 in 2017 to 22,371 in 2018, although the total number of workers covered decreased from 423,527 to 410,600. The amount of time lost to injury also increased slightly.
All this was despite the fact that 88 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces had zero injuries or fatalities in 2018.
“This is a development we must address immediately and it will mean working together to ensure our workplace remain safe,” WCB vice-president of Prevention and Employment Services Phil Germain said in the media release. “All of us from individuals to organizations to leadership need to take part in ensuring our injury rates do not increase further.”