Mining for zero injuries in Saskatchewan


WorkSafe Saskatchewan continues working with employers to reduce fatalities

In 2008, Saskatchewan had the second worst workplace injury rate in Canada. The province’s workplace total injury rate was 10.21 per 100 workers.

In May 2008, WorkSafe Saskatchewan – the partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety – launched the ambitious goal of Mission: Zero. Mission: Zero is a call to action and culture change for leaders, employers and workers to achieve zero workplace injuries, zero fatalities and zero suffering.

“It was time to put a stop to injuries happening in the workplace and end the suffering of injured workers and their families,” says Phil Germain, the WCB’s vice-president of prevention and employer services. “All workplace injuries and deaths are preventable.”

Since the launch of Mission: Zero, after a decade of safety initiatives, preventative work and messaging, training and education efforts, and thanks to the commitment from industry, leaders, employers and workers, there has been a steady decline in workplace injury claims.

“Thanks to the health, safety and prevention efforts of people around the province, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan employers achieved Mission: Zero in 2018,” says Germain. “With so many people leading by example, injuries have been prevented and lives have been saved.”

Saskatchewan’s workplace total injury rate has dropped by almost 47 per cent from 2008 to 2018. The province’s workplace total injury rate is now the fifth worst in the country.

However, the province’s 2018 total injury rate increased by 3.6 per cent from 2017. Saskatchewan’s 2018 total injury rate was 5.44 per 100 workers. The province’s time loss injury rate – which measures the number of workers hurt badly enough to be off work for at least one day beyond the day of injury – increased to 1.99 per 100 workers.

“This is a development we must address immediately and it will mean working together to ensure our workplaces remain safe,” says Germain. “All of us – individuals, organizations and leadership – need to take part in ensuring our injury rates do not increase further.”

Most alarming in 2018 is the number of fatalities. Sadly, in 2018, there were 48 workplace fatalities, an increase of 78 per cent from 2017. Over the past 15 years, the WCB has seen an average of 38 workplace fatalities per year. In 2017, the WCB saw the lowest number in the past 15 years at 27. Over the past two years, 27 of the WCB’s 50 industry rate codes have experienced a fatality, including open-pit mining, which experienced a fatality in 2018.

“This is devastating for our province. Behind every statistic is a loved one who will never come home to their family,” says Germain. “We’ve embarked on several research projects with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan to understand more about our workplace fatalities.”

Evidence from the International Social Security Association indicates that a focus on serious injuries and fatalities should improve the overall level of safety in the province. In 2018, the WCB developed a serious injury definition. This analysis revealed that approximately 2,400 injuries meet the serious injury definition each year. Between 2015 and 2017, less than two per cent of serious injuries came from the mining sector.

Serious injuries represented approximately 10 per cent of all injuries in 2017 and 75 per cent of compensation days paid in 2017 for claims registered in 2017.

“Focusing on serious injuries and fatalities could get us closer to Mission: Zero,” says Germain. “We will continue to make this a top priority in 2019 as part of our serious injury and fatality initiative.”

The top causes of fatalities in 2018 were from occupational diseases and motor vehicle collisions. WorkSafe launched several resources and campaigns in 2018 targeting the highest causes of workplace injuries and deaths.

WorkSafe offers resources, awareness campaigns, education, training and targeted initiatives to help eliminate workplace injuries and fatalities.

For resources on how to prevent workplace injuries, employers and workers can reach out to their industry safety association or visit WorkSafe’s website at www.worksafesask.ca.

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