Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Workplace injuries and leading indicators in Alberta

This summer, researchers with the Institute for Work & Health released a study looking at occupational health and safety vulnerability in Alberta (apologies that I can't find a link to the report- I received it by email). Essentially, they surveyed workers in Alberta (n=1026) about their OHS experiences and circumstances and then did some analysis and comparisons to BC and Ontario.

Some basic descriptive stats about Alberta workers:
  • 58% were exposed to workplace hazards on a weekly basis
  • 42% had inadequate workplace OHS policies and procedures
  • 37% had inadequate OHS empowerment
  • 23% had inadequate OHS awareness
  • 36% of Alberta workers were deemed vulnerable because of exposure to hazards with inadequate protections on one of more dimensions.
Workers were also asked about their experiences of OHS outcomes
  • 28% agreed they worried about getting injured or ill from work
  • 19% reported a physical work-related injury in the past year
  • 18% reported a mental work-related injury in the past year.
  • 55% of injuries required time off from work
  • 19% of injuries were reported to the WCB 
The study also found (not surprisingly) that workers with the highest level of OHS vulnerability were the most likely to worry about and experience an injury (see screen cap below).

This study broadly confirms prior studies of worker self-report of injury in Alberta (e..g., roughly 1 in 5 experience physical injury; time off due to injury is often required but goes unreported to the WCB). It useful helps identify some leading indicators of workplace safety: workers who report adequate protections appear to be at a lower risk of injury.

-- Bob Barnetson

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