Canadian Occupational Safety

May/June 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 23 of 35

24 P E O P L E I N D U S T R Y P R O F I L E SASKATCHEWAN REDUCING SERIOUS INJURIES, FATALITIES New CEO of Saskatchewan's Workers' Compensation Board explains the key areas of the province's strategy for tackling serious injuries and workplace deaths and discusses his passion for helping workers return to meaningful work after an incident LATE last year, Saskatchewan announced a new three-year strategy to reduce serious injuries and fatalities in the province. According to the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board (WCB), although the time loss and total injury rates have seen "a slow and steady decline" over the past decade, there are about 2,400 serious injuries annually, which has remained fairly flat. Additionally, from 2010 to 2018, the WCB accepted 354 work-related fatalities. "We started to understand through analysis that it was the serious injuries and fatalities that weren't going down," says Phillip Germain, CEO of the WCB. "We said, 'Here is what we are seeing; we think we should shift our focus from just all injuries to a greater focus on reducing serious injuries and fatalities.' So, now, we needed to think about how do we transition from our current strategy into this new strategy." After meeting with various stakeholders over the past few years and tweaking the strategy as needed, the three-year plan ultimately focuses on four injury priority areas: asbestos years; we want to prevent it now." As part of the strategy, the province will continue to run its asbestos awareness campaign, form an industry best practices group to investigate the development of an industry standard as well as develop and improve communications regarding asbestos handling and disposal requirements. Work-related motor vehicle crashes are the number 2 cause of workplace fatalities in Saskatchewan. WorkSafe has partnered with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and the Saskatchewan Trucking Association to achieve its goal of reducing work-related motor vehicle crashes by 30 per cent by Dec. 31, 2021. exposure, work-related motor vehicle crashes, firefighter cancer exposure and falls from heights. The plan is spearheaded by WorkSafe Saskatchewan, a partnership between the Saskatchewan WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. Asbestos exposure is the number 1 cause of workplace fatalities in Saskatchewan, according to data spanning from 2010 to 2018, accounting for 66 per cent of occupational disease fatalities during that time frame. While buildings and residential homes may no longer be made with asbestos, there is a flurry of renovation and demolition activities that risks exposing workers to the dangerous substance. Many of these new workers who are conducting these tasks likely don't even know what asbestos looks like or where it can be found, says Germain. "The '40s through to the '80s are what caused the reason why we are having so many asbestos exposure-related fatalities. People were exposed many years ago and now they are passing away because of this disease. We don't want another bubble coming through in 20 "They are helping us understand what's driving these motor vehicle- related crashes and support organizations in figuring out what they can do to prevent these issues," says Germain. "[We are] trying to make sure the companies that have lots of motor vehicles on the road and the workers themselves get the right information to manage these risks properly." The three-year strategy also signals the intention of developing a targeted field campaign with federal Occupational Health and Safety. Firefighter cancer exposure is the third priority area identified in the strategy, accounting for 28 per cent of occupational disease fatalities between 2010 and 2018. It aims to improve firefighter cancer prevention controls by 50 per cent in Saskatchewan by Dec. 31, 2021. It outlines the intention to complete firefighter cancer audits and improve awareness to reduce the risk of future firefighter cancer exposures. It is also hoping to investigate the feasibility of a grant program to help with improving and purchasing additional hazard controls, such as particulate blocking hoods or backup sets of turnout gear. "It's one that we're seeing trend up," says Germain. "We are working with the fire halls and fire chiefs across the province and we are starting to understand some of the drivers of these cancers, what's causing them." Some of the results were rather surprizing, including that it's not just exposure to carcinogens while fighting a fire that are hazardous to the firefighters. "Often, the most dangerous time isn't "I understand how good people may not know anything about health and safety… I know from my own experience growing up, this wasn't intuitive and it wasn't easy." Phil Germain, CEO, Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board FATALITIES BY CAUSE 2010-2018 Source: WorkSafe Saskatchewan Mission: Zero, Fatalities & Serious Injury Strategy 2019-2021 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Asbestos exposure Motor vehicle crash Heart attack Firefighter cancer exposure Fall from heights Struck by vehicle Other* 87 56 42 28 23 11 107

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