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Newfoundland and Labrador reports lowest number of workplace injuries in 50 years
Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010  

ST. JOHN’S – The number of workplace injuries resulting in lost-time compensation claims in this province has dropped below 4,000 for the first time in 50 years, the Workplace, Health, Safety and Compensation Commission reports. According to annual statistics finalized this month, there were 3,999 lost-time injury claims in 2009, down from 4,255 a year earlier. 
The last time the number of lost-time injury claims reported was below the 4,000 mark was in 1958, when there were 3,410 claims. The number of claims has been above 4,000 ever since, peaking at 10,642 in 1989.  

The lost-time incidence rate, which measures the number of claims per 100 workers employed in the province, remained at an all-time low of 1.9. The rate has declined steadily from a high of 3.2 in 2000.  

The number of accidental workplace fatality claims reported in the year, however, increased to 25, the highest in 20 years. In 2008 there were six accidental workplace fatality claims reported. There were also 17 fatality claims from industrial disease reported in each of the past two years. 

“The significant reduction in workplace injuries is evidence of a strengthening culture of safety in this province, but the good news was completely overshadowed by the devastation of so many workers losing their lives on the job,” said Commission Chief Executive Officer Leslie Galway. “The number of workplace fatalities in 2009 made it a tragic year for Newfoundland and Labrador. These tragedies must remind us to be constantly vigilant for our safety – particularly in high risk areas.” 

Workplace fatality claims in 2009 include 13 deaths from the March 12 Cougar helicopter crash that claimed the lives of 17 workers (fatality claims are reported in the year in which the claim is filed and accepted by the Commission, not necessarily the year the death occurred). In addition, there were five fishing-related fatality claims reported in 2009, two in construction, two in aviation, two related to previous workplace injuries and one to contagious disease. 
In other indicators, the number of medical aid only claims in 2009 was 2,335, down 25.6% from the 3,139 reported a year earlier. The incidence rate among young workers declined to 1.8 per 100 workers, down from 2.0 a year earlier.  

The Commission offers all employers and workers in the province prevention information and assistance packages, and recommends specific training initiatives to assist in the prevention of workplace accidents and injuries. Employers or employees seeking more information are urged to call 709-778-1000 and inquire about prevention initiatives in their particular industry.  

Serving over 16,000 employers and approximately 11,000 injured workers, the Commission is an employer-funded, no fault insurance system that promotes safe and healthy workplaces, provides return-to-work programs and fair compensation to injured workers and their dependants.  

Chris Flanagan
Director of Communications
Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission
Telephone: 709-778-1590 or 1-800-563-9000 

Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission
146-148 Forest Road • St. John’s • NL • A1A 3B8
Telephone (709) 778-1000 •1-800-563-9000

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