Workplace injury claims down across the board in pandemic year: annual report

Workplace injury claims were down in 2020, according to an annual report released by the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) on Friday.

In 2019, the WCB had 28,865 total claims compared to 23,746 in 2020. Of them, 17,922 were accepted.

A total of 334 claims relating to COVID-19 were registered and accepted as of January 2021, 181 of them being from healthcare workers.

“They were primarily in healthcare, which makes sense given the nature of their business. But there were claims in almost every industry," said Phillip Germain, the CEO of the Saskatchewan WCB.

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) said in the not-so-distant future the psychological effects many healthcare workers are experiencing in the pandemic's wake will need to be considered by organizations like the WCB.

"It needs to be presumptive just like we managed to get with the mesothelioma or PTSD in other professions. When it comes to COVID and working with COVID, people shouldn’t have to prove or jump through any hoops," said Tracy Zambory, SUN president.

There were 34 fatality claims in 2020, two less than 2019.

“The only acceptable number is zero deaths and zero injuries, that we have to keep on working with employers and employees to make sure everybody comes home safe at the end of the day," said Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.

Last year also saw a drop in the number workers covered by the WCB, compared to prior years, with 402,306.

Germain said the pandemic did bring about a more proactive safety approach in many workplaces.

"The pandemic, if there's any silver linings I think the pandemic really heightened people to the sense of identifying risks and managing risks in the workplace which is why we saw more workplaces than ever achieve mission zero," Germain said.

Germain added 90 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces did not have a time loss injury or fatality in 2020.