Workplace injury rates in the province increased last year, according to the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) 2021 injury statistics that were released today.
The workplace Total injury rate for 2021 was 4.56 per 100 workers, a two per cent increase from 2020. However, from 2009 to 2021, the WCB’s Total injury rate has decreased by 51.1 per cent.
“For more than a decade, we have seen employers, workers and safety leaders in our province band together to address safety in our workplaces,” says Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for the WCB. “As we remain focused on keeping all workers safe, we will continue to see our province’s injury rate decline.”
The 2021 Time Loss injury rate also increased in comparison to the previous year, for a total of 2.03 per 100 workers. This is an increase of 14% from the 2020 rate of 1.78 per 100 workers.
One of the major factors that contributed to the Time Loss injury rate increase was the number of COVID-19 claims in 2020 and 2021. Without the COVID-19 claims, the rate would have been 1.78 per 100 workers in 2021 and 1.70 per 100 workers in 2020. The WCB accepted 1,035 compensation claims related to COVID-19 in 2021, compared to 347 in 2020.
“While our injury rates saw a slight increase in 2021, our Total injury rate has decreased over the past decade thanks to the safety efforts of workers, employers, partners and leaders across the province,” says WCB chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky. “This suggests that we have made improvements, but there is more work for all of us to do. For the second year in a row, 90 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces had zero injuries and zero fatalities.”
There was a 9% decrease in workplace fatalities in 2021 compared to 2020. These deaths occurred in a variety of Saskatchewan industries.
“Sadly, 31 workers across the province lost their lives in a work-related incident last year. Every one of those deaths has had a devastating impact on the loved one’s family and their community,” says Dobrowolsky. “It is imperative for us all to keep focusing on preventing workplace deaths and serious injuries to eliminate this suffering in Saskatchewan.”
In December of 2019, WorkSafe Saskatchewan – the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety – launched the Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. The focus of the strategy is to prioritize and address the high-risk industries, occupations and tasks within those industries that are resulting in fatality and serious injury claims.
The three year long project included government, employers, foreign workers, indigenous community members, and labourers in its consultation process. WorkSafe has begun reaching out to stakeholders to participate in the development of the next version of the strategy, which is being extended for five more years.
“Collaboration with our stakeholders is critical to understanding industry needs and delivering sustainable injury prevention outcomes,” says Dobrowolsky. “By working together on these initiatives, we can all contribute by bringing our injury rates and fatalities down, and keeping all workers safe on the job.”
WorkSafe’s focus last year was in the areas of asbestos exposures, work-related vehicle crashes, firefighter cancer exposures, falls from heights (construction industry), health care, transportation, first responders (psychological injuries), and manufacturing (specifically hand injuries).