Collecting Data for Good News

Sometimes, good news stories do not get the attention they deserve. In the late spring of 2017, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) released its annual statistical report for 2016.

Click here to access the 2016 WSIB statistical report.

Based on the data provided, the report confirms that lost-time injury rates for workers in Ontario have continued to fall. Conversely, this means that workplaces in Ontario increased their focus to ensure that workers are safe. The WSIB numbers reflect that focus accordingly.

This information received very little media attention. There was a brief article posted in OHS Canada Magazine outlining the relevance of the report and its impact on Ontario’s workers.

Click here to read the article.

Even though there was not much media fanfare about this report, the results are significant. Lower lost-time injury rates show that progressive and positive workplace safety measures are working. It also means that there is increased emphasis on ensuring that injured workers are able to return to work as quickly as they can through the pro-active supports provided by workplace accommodations such as physical interventions, graduated return procedures, modified work, and re-training as needed.

All of this information is available to the public in the aforementioned statistical report. In addition, the report is interactive and allows users to build their own reports based on their particular area of interest. For the Health and Safety professional, the report builder provides a great tool to use for purposes of benchmarking and assessing different injury categories or rates based on specific industries and relevant demographic data.

Why is this important? Data, translated into information, is the tool that tells the story that allows organizations to make decisions. In this case, the story that is told speaks to the importance of continuing progress and positive interventions to keep workers safe.

It is definitely a story worth re-telling.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Based on your current knowledge of your workplace, using the WSIB’s report builder, build a report based on two or three injury categories for workers meeting your age group (demographic filter) for lost-time injuries.
  2. Build a similar report to analyze traumatic fatalities.
  3. As the Health and Safety Officer, how can you use the report builder to convince leaders in your organization to shape or shift health and safety practices?
  4. What types of new information did you discover based on the reports that you built?


Return to work. Too much? Too soon?

Injured man using computer

A fundamental element in any workplace safety program includes a return to work process for employees who have been injured on the job. In Ontario, clear policy guidelines are established by the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). These policies identify the steps required by all parties to ensure a successful ‘Work Reintegration’ process following a work-related injury.


Click here to read the steps required for the WSIB Work Reintegration program.

This particular program, and others like it in different jurisdictions across Canada, is based on extensive research and seemingly sound principles, that should honour everyone in the process including the injured worker. The reality of implementation, however, paints a different picture of how a poorly managed return to work program can have a devastating effect on the long-term recovery by the injured worker, especially when the injured individual’s credibility is called into question.

The Toronto Star recently posted an investigative piece on the complexities and potential consequences related to the pressures of work reintegration programs.

Click here to read the article.

The disconnect is significant between the positive intent of the WSIB policy guidelines and the negative results of a poorly communicated return to work strategy.

From a Human Resources perspective, we are often the ones called upon to make that initial contact with the injured worker, as required by the WSIB, within hours of the workplace injury taking place. It is no wonder that the Human Resources practitioner who makes this first contact is often perceived as a cold-hearted, ambulance-chasing bloodhound whose only interest is making sure that the employer’s financial interests are protected.

Yes, there are significant financial penalties imposed on employers when legislative requirements are not followed. There are also significant and long-term consequences when an injured worker is not treated with the respect that they are due, especially when they are vulnerable and in pain.

We, as Human Resources professionals, must learn how to straddle the legislative requirements imposed upon us with some element of dignity and respect for the injured worker. This takes time, patience and practice to strike the right balance between compliance with our legal obligations and compassion for our fellow workers, especially when they need our support the most.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you were injured at work, how would you react if your employer called to ask you to come back to work as soon as possible?
  2. As a Human Resources practitioner, what is the first thing you will say to an injured worker when you are required to call them after their injury?
  3. The article discusses the negative perceptions of injured workers by other co-workers. What will you do if you see this happening in your workplace?

The Historical WCB Trade off

How are WCB rates set?

First off, let’s learn the language of workplace compensation. Each province has its own workplace compensation board with its own unique name.

Click here to see the name of your provincial workers compensation board.

For ease of reference for this post, let’s use WCB as the common term.

To understand WCB in Canada, one must first understand the concept of the “Historic Tradeoff” under Canadian Workers’ Compensation law. Workers have given up the right to sue their employers in exchange for access to workplace compensation should they (the workers) be injured at work. In exchange, employers have gained the great benefit of not being sued, and they (the employers) must fund the cost of providing the workplace insurance system which compensates injured workers. That, in essence, is the “Historic Tradeoff.”

Employers must fund WCB through payroll assessments called rate groups. Usually this is defined as an amount per $100 of payroll. For example, a grocery stores rate group will pay $2.20 per $100 of payroll.

In Ontario, the workplace compensation board (known as WSIB) is planning to put employers in the driver’s seat with regard to payroll assessment costs. The WSIB is planning to modernize its assessment rates in order to provide more an effective trade-off between the employee and the employer.

Source: Canadian HR Reporter. The above content constitutes a link to the source website. Please click on the play icon to stream the video.

WSIB in Ontario is planning a new three step system to help allow employers to have greater control over their individual premiums by including:

  1. Employer classification
  2. Class level premium rate setting
  3. Employee level premium rate adjustment

Click here to see WSIB information on the new rating system.

Hopefully, this new system will allow employers who have less workplace accidents to lower their workplace insurance premiums over time. Employers who put time and energy into a ensuring that they have a good safety record will be rewarded through lower WCB costs and increased safety systems.

It will be interesting to see how this new trade-off unfolds in Ontario.

Discussion Questions:

  1. You are working for a company in Alberta that wants to expand into two new provinces. Your CEO has asked you to recommend which provinces the organization should consider moving into. The CEO wishes you consider the WCB premium costing as the factor of study.
    1. Pick an industry, identify its current rate group cost in Alberta and then pick two (2) other provinces you would recommend.
    2. In your analysis include current rate group costs and any possible future trends.

Click here to see rating chart.

  1. Pick three provinces and review any workers compensation assessment incentive inventive programs that the province offers, how do they differ? How are they similar?
  2. Would the new compensation system in Ontario entice you to move the organization to that province?