N.L. workers' comp rates still highest in Canada

Terry Roberts
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Occupational health/safety Workplace injuries declines to 1.9 per 100 workers

Workplace injuries in this province are now among the lowest in the country, but the rates paid by employers to fund the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) remain the highest.

That's because the system is still underfunded, the commission continues to pay for operating deficits from previous years and further reductions in the accident rates are needed, said Ralph Tucker, chairman of the WHSCC board of directors.

Ralph Tucker is chairman of Newfoundland and Labrador's Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) board of directors. - Photo by Terry Roberts/The Telegram

Workplace injuries in this province are now among the lowest in the country, but the rates paid by employers to fund the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) remain the highest.

That's because the system is still underfunded, the commission continues to pay for operating deficits from previous years and further reductions in the accident rates are needed, said Ralph Tucker, chairman of the WHSCC board of directors.

Tucker was the guest speaker Thursday at a meeting of the Rotary Club of St. John's.

He explained that the injury rate in Newfoundland and Labrador went from 3.3 per 100 workers in 2000 - the highest rate in the country - to 1.9 per 100 workers in 2008. Only three other provinces - New Brunswick, Ontario and Prince Edward Island - now have better rates.

"That's a huge decrease," Tucker said.

Tucker detailed a long list of initiatives undertaken by the WHSCC in recent years aimed at creating safer workplaces, including an emphasis on youth. It's resulted in a 38 per cent decline in workplace injuries since 2000. He praised employers and their employees for joining forces with the commission.

But the rates charged to employers to fund the system have not fallen at the same rate. In this province, employers pay an average assessment of 2.75 per cent of payroll to the commission. That rate has been the same since 2006.

Tucker acknowledged "that's not a healthy number, and we have to do better than that."

He said the commission has three options - increase benefits to injured workers, reduce assessment rates, or both. The conditions are not there for either, he said, because "we started from such a huge deficit. At the board level we're responsible for the integrity of the system from a fiscal perspective and it's not strong enough yet to let us look at any further reduction."

Last year, the commission collected 96.3 cents for every dollar it spent. In 2004, it collected just over 85 cents.

The situation is improving, but more work is needed, Tucker said.

He said workplace safety measures prevented roughly 17,000 injuries since 2000, and saved the system roughly $300 million. But there were still 7,394 injuries in 2008, including six deaths.

Tucker said a recent survey by the commission found that about 50 per cent of people believe accidents "just happen." Tucker said that's not true, and all accidents are preventable.

Meanwhile, the province's federation of labour is taking issue with the commission's statistics on workplace injuries. Federation president Lana Payne said the numbers are only half the story.

"The other half of the story is a system that rewards under-reporting and focuses on the cost of the injury rather than the injured worker," she said.

She said the number of injuries reported each year "is actually a decline in the number of workers' compensation claims accepted by the commission and may not necessarily equate to a decrease in the number of injuries. Data on the number of injuries is not reported."

Payne acknowledged that workplaces are safer, but said the federation is concerned that the declining number of claims being accepted by the commission may be due to other factors.

She said some claims for compensation are denied, and some injuries go unreported because employers want to avoid paying higher premiums to the commission. She said the amount of compensation benefits paid by the commission are so low that it becomes a "huge financial hardship" for some workers.

An official with the commission said roughly 96 per cent of compensation claims are approved. The remainder, the official said, are usually determined to not be work-related.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: WHSCC, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission Rotary Club

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador New Brunswick Ontario Prince Edward Island

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Tired of the lame excuses
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The rates are too high because the commission, like all government run entities, is so inefficient. They eat up the money to pay proper compensation to the injured workers. Too much staff at the commission and they are overpaid, sounds like City of St Johns and Mile one Center doesnt it.......the bureaucrats get caught up in the power and control of policies that dont work .how much of the budget of WHSCC goes to pay for salaries and benefits and operating of WHSCC, how much of the 2 million dollar subsidy provided to Mile One Center is gobbled up to pay salaries at SJSE ..Do we need over 600 hundred full time employees to run the Recreation dept of the City of St Johnsinefficient bureaucrats control the these organizations and nothing will ever change until the culture changes to make these organizations efficient..privatize the works!!!!!

  • No need
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Wonder why this report does not include the injuries that the employers turned into light or modified duties to prevent a report? Employers would rather force someone to sit in a chair licking stamp then to have them at home, and have created modified duties/disability management work practices to ensure that no report of injury to the board is needed.


    Of course the numbers decline, the employers pay less when they report a decline. Oh well, as long as the workers fall for it then the numbers will stay low and we have no learnings to carry forward to protect the future workforce. Good job.

  • The Real Nasty Nate
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    than not then

  • Pissed Off
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I am an employer and pay my WHSCC dues. But if there is one thing that I learned besides practicing safe work methods is that WHSCC does not consider the employers objections or complaints at all when a worker abuses the system.

    How can WHSCC justify spending thousands of dollars on an 19 yr old employee who got hit in the arm with a board within one hour of starting a new job? That arm didn't even break, no ruptured muscles or tendons but yet that employee was off for three months with pay. I'm sure that most of us got hurt worse and been back to work the next day.

    I guess the WHSCC needs to justify paying $thousands of dollars to the five workers looking after the one little claim at my expense and other employers.

    If I thought I could get away from that money grubbing group, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    However, I'm still trying to find out where is the employers rights in this organization. Their employer appeal process is a joke, don't waste your breath on that route. If any of you out there can provide me with any guidance, I would dearly appreciate it.

    • Rod Hobbs
      June 02, 2012 - 11:08

      Hi I think it is time to make a stand (for injured workers) stop paying them money. I'am an injured worker worked last 23 years, I have damaged disc and nerves in exstream pain need surgery per doctor. WCB paid me 250.00 dollars what a joke to date spent more then that on meds. I am receiving disability from goverment. So you the employer need to make a stand and stop paying those crooks your money. I tell you WCB is doing nothing to help injured workers.

  • greg
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    WHSCC has been hi-jacked by a band of malevolent employers. They might as well fly the Jolly Roger at their offices. The benefit rate is capped off at a little more than 49 thousand a year. Beware skilled trades,and offshore workers. You can lose your house, family and everything you own if you get injured on the job.If your house insurance operated as poorly as WHSCC there would be a law against it. Ciao

  • Sportnewf
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    I cannot believe that someone holding this position can make a comment such as this one: He said workplace safety measures prevented roughly 17,000 injuries since 2000, and saved the system roughly $300 million.

    If anyone working with WHSCC has a way to measure things that DID NOT happen and can put a dollar value on something that DID NOT happen, please put that in the paper next week. I am interested in that kind of information.

    In the next paragraph he says ...all accidents are preventable. Please tell us more of what you are doing to address that statement!

    Prevention goes along way but don't throw out some glorified statistics about what DID NOT happen.

    Keep working at it, you must be making a difference somewhere.

  • W
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Exactly correct No Need to report.......... the premiums are so high people will get paid to stay home rather than have it recorded as a LTI, then the rates go up if it is a LTI, etc..........counter productive, I have worked as a Health & Safety Coordinator and have seen some creative reporting

  • Tired of the lame excuses
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    The rates are too high because the commission, like all government run entities, is so inefficient. They eat up the money to pay proper compensation to the injured workers. Too much staff at the commission and they are overpaid, sounds like City of St Johns and Mile one Center doesnt it.......the bureaucrats get caught up in the power and control of policies that dont work .how much of the budget of WHSCC goes to pay for salaries and benefits and operating of WHSCC, how much of the 2 million dollar subsidy provided to Mile One Center is gobbled up to pay salaries at SJSE ..Do we need over 600 hundred full time employees to run the Recreation dept of the City of St Johnsinefficient bureaucrats control the these organizations and nothing will ever change until the culture changes to make these organizations efficient..privatize the works!!!!!

  • No need
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Wonder why this report does not include the injuries that the employers turned into light or modified duties to prevent a report? Employers would rather force someone to sit in a chair licking stamp then to have them at home, and have created modified duties/disability management work practices to ensure that no report of injury to the board is needed.


    Of course the numbers decline, the employers pay less when they report a decline. Oh well, as long as the workers fall for it then the numbers will stay low and we have no learnings to carry forward to protect the future workforce. Good job.

  • The Real Nasty Nate
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    than not then

  • Pissed Off
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    I am an employer and pay my WHSCC dues. But if there is one thing that I learned besides practicing safe work methods is that WHSCC does not consider the employers objections or complaints at all when a worker abuses the system.

    How can WHSCC justify spending thousands of dollars on an 19 yr old employee who got hit in the arm with a board within one hour of starting a new job? That arm didn't even break, no ruptured muscles or tendons but yet that employee was off for three months with pay. I'm sure that most of us got hurt worse and been back to work the next day.

    I guess the WHSCC needs to justify paying $thousands of dollars to the five workers looking after the one little claim at my expense and other employers.

    If I thought I could get away from that money grubbing group, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    However, I'm still trying to find out where is the employers rights in this organization. Their employer appeal process is a joke, don't waste your breath on that route. If any of you out there can provide me with any guidance, I would dearly appreciate it.

  • greg
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    WHSCC has been hi-jacked by a band of malevolent employers. They might as well fly the Jolly Roger at their offices. The benefit rate is capped off at a little more than 49 thousand a year. Beware skilled trades,and offshore workers. You can lose your house, family and everything you own if you get injured on the job.If your house insurance operated as poorly as WHSCC there would be a law against it. Ciao

  • Sportnewf
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    I cannot believe that someone holding this position can make a comment such as this one: He said workplace safety measures prevented roughly 17,000 injuries since 2000, and saved the system roughly $300 million.

    If anyone working with WHSCC has a way to measure things that DID NOT happen and can put a dollar value on something that DID NOT happen, please put that in the paper next week. I am interested in that kind of information.

    In the next paragraph he says ...all accidents are preventable. Please tell us more of what you are doing to address that statement!

    Prevention goes along way but don't throw out some glorified statistics about what DID NOT happen.

    Keep working at it, you must be making a difference somewhere.

  • W
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Exactly correct No Need to report.......... the premiums are so high people will get paid to stay home rather than have it recorded as a LTI, then the rates go up if it is a LTI, etc..........counter productive, I have worked as a Health & Safety Coordinator and have seen some creative reporting