On March 13, 2023, WorkSafe Saskatchewan released the 2023-2028 Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. The Strategy outlines key areas of focus for the next five years and includes some important prevention and enforcement information for employers in Saskatchewan. Employers in the healthcare, transportation, and construction sectors were specifically identified in the Strategy by WorkSafe Saskatchewan.
This is the second iteration of the Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. WorkSafe Saskatchewan completed the first iteration in 2019 in partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. With approximately 2,400 workplace injuries each year, the Strategy aims to eliminate workplace fatalities and serious injuries. Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan noted that although the first iteration the Strategy resulted in an injury rate reduction over the last three years, it was “not nearly enough.”
Key areas of focus
The Strategy focuses on three main workplace sectors: healthcare, transportation and construction. These were selected based on the disproportionate number of serious injuries and fatalities that occur in these industries. Some of the statistics cited to support this selection include:
- 29% of all serious injuries in Saskatchewan from 2010-2021 occurred in the health care and transportation industries
- 94% of occupational disease fatalities from 2010-2021 in the construction industry were asbestos-related
- Work-place related motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of acute work-related fatalities in the construction industry from 2010-2021
The Strategy also outlines common issues that affect most Saskatchewan workplaces, including motor vehicle crashes, asbestos, falls, industrial ergonomics, violence and mental health.
The plan for implementing the Strategy includes a prevention and learning stream, and a compliance and enforcement stream. Minister Don Morgan announced that the province has increased the amount of fines and penalties and added additional resources to prosecutions as part of their enforcement efforts. The Ministry has also added training for occupational health workers to ensure they are able to gather the necessary evidence to get a successful prosecution.
WorkSafe Saskatchewan will also identify employers from the targeted sectors to meet with the OHS branch of the ministry and members from WCB to discuss their participation in workplace safety, provide information and education, and share resources.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers in the healthcare, transportation and construction industries should expect and prepare for increased attention and inspections from the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, as well increased interactions with the Workers Compensation Board through WorkSafe Saskatchewan.
Employers should also ensure that they examine their workplaces and take proactive steps to mitigate risks associated with the issues identified by WorkSafe Saskatchewan, i.e., motor vehicle crashes, asbestos, falls, industrial ergonomics, violence and mental health. If you have questions about how the strategy affects your organization, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Occupational Health and Safety or Labour and Employment team.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.