Workplace deaths down from record-setting previous year
The number of injuries and fatalities linked to Saskatchewan workplaces is going down, according to the most recent information from the province's Workers Compensation Board.
The board, which provides a benefit plan for a majority of provincial workplaces, released its 2013 annual report Tuesday.
According to the WCB, there were 35 workplace-related deaths in that year. That figure is a dramatic drop from 2012 when 60 fatalities were reported. That year stood out as one of the deadliest recorded since the inception of the WCB.
A notable statistic, from 2012, was the number of work-related heart attacks. In that year there were 15 deaths from heart attacks related to work.
In 2013, that figure dropped to just two.
"There's really nothing we can really attribute the 15 heart attack fatalities to," Peter Federko, the head of the WCB, said Tuesday when asked about the unusual number from 2012.
The board did note that the number one cause of death — in 2013 — was occupational disease linked to a time when asbestos and other harmful materials were common in the work place.
The latest report also noted that there were fatalities recorded in all industries covered by the WCB. There were also two under-18 people who died at work.
Injury prevention lags
According to Federko, compared to other provinces Saskatchewan isn't doing a very good job of preventing work-place injuries. The province continues to have the second highest at work injury rate in Canada. That distinction comes despite the fact that workplace injuries, in Saskatchewan, have been reduced by 50 per cent, since 2002.
"We're just trying to play catch up," Federko said. "Catching up to the other jurisdictions who have been at this maybe for a little bit longer than we have."
By the numbers
In 2013 the WCB:
- Processed 10,392 claims related to time at work lost.
- Processed 21,316 claims for incidents where no time at work was lost.
- Rejected 5,988 claims.
Federko added that Saskatchewan people seem to have a different attitude when it comes to injuries at work.
"We in Saskatchewan appear to have a propensity to just, more so than others, accept injuries as something that is just going to happen," he said. "I don't think there's anything you can really do about it."
According to the 2013 report, Saskatchewan's poor performance for workplace injuries can be attributed to a relatively small number of companies.
The board noted that 86 per cent of employers did not file claims in 2013.
Federko said the WCB follows up with those companies which are filing claims.
"We work directly with them," he said.