Workplace deaths increased in 2018 image

(Mihajlo Maricic photo)

The last thing anyone wants to hear is that a family member or friend has been hurt — or worse — on the job. But according to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia’s report to the community, there were more than four times the number of “acute deaths” in the first half of 2018 than previous quarters.

According to the report, there were 18 workplace deaths in the first two quarters of 2018 — compared to nine workplace deaths in the first two quarters of 2017. Half of those deaths were acute fatalities, where a traumatic incident at work led to fatal injury. That’s more than four times the number of acute deaths in the first half of 2017.

“Too many people continue to die at work or because of their work in Nova Scotia,” says WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean. “These stories of human tragedy that punctuate the overall story of workplace safety in our province are stark reminders that our work is never done.”

Most of these accidents occurred in early May of 2017, on or around North American Occupational Health and Safety (NAOSH) Awareness Week. During this time, when extra emphasis is placed on the need for increased health and safety practices in the workplace, there were five deaths during a one-week period.

The majority of these deaths were from falls, motor vehicle accidents and capsized fishing boats. The number of acute fatalities is expected to fluctuate from year to year, but 2018 is trending as an above-average year. According to the report, it could be because of a lax or slow-to-change safety culture in the province.

“No one should die as a result of their work, and every workplace fatality is a tragedy,” MacLean says. “The increase in 2018 speaks to the need for continued work by all of us to keep Nova Scotians safe on the job.”

WCB Nova Scotia tracks a number of other statistics, including those related to time off the job due to injury.

This report reveals that both the length of the average claim and the number of days lost to workplace injury are on the rise. Researchers say this increase may, in part, be a result of the increased time worker claims are taking to resolve — something they plan to address in 2019.

By the second quarter of 2018, there were 1,343 time-loss claims reported. Injury causes included falling from heights, burns, smoke inhalation, being pinned between vehicles, falling out of moving vehicles, and cuts from workplace tools.

WCB Nova Scotia, in partnership with the four Atlantic Workplace Compensation Boards and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, has already started their new worker injury awareness campaign, which focuses on the repercussions workplace injuries have on home life.

By focusing on the lives of three average families that have been forever changed by a workplace injury, occupational disease or fatality, WCB Nova Scotia hopes to turn the tide on the “slow-to-change” workplace mindset on health and safety.

“Too much time is being lost to injury in our province, and it’s holding us back,” says MacLean. “We all have a role to play, and that role starts with education and awareness.”

For more information or to view the full report, visit wcb.ns.ca.

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