Injury rate amongst arena staff highest in the province

The report also indicated that it’s taking longer for injured employees to return to work than it did previously

Strathcona Gardens staff had the highest injury rate among all B.C. local governments in 2013, according to a recent report.

The B.C. Municipal Safety Association, which exists to improve worker health and safety, made that revelation in a report sent to the Strathcona Regional District in late January.

The report was relayed to the Strathcona Gardens Commission this week.

Yves Bienvenu, Strathcona Gardens facility manager, said the ranking takes into account Workers’ Compensation files among other things.

“The activity levels are in regards to WCB claims, critical injuries, gradual return to work program and key health and safety initiatives,” wrote Bienvenu in a report to the Strathcona Gardens Commission. “A copy of the correspondence from the B.C. Municipal Safety Association has been forwarded to the USW Union and discussions regarding the content and possible next steps are ongoing. Both the union and regional district recognize the seriousness of the report.”

According to the report, the injury rate in 2013 for local governments with 20 to 99 employees was 4.25 while in comparison, the Strathcona Regional District’s was 15.87. The report also indicated that it’s taking longer for injured employees to return to work than it did previously. The time lost due to injury in the Strathcona Regional District increased from 46 days in 2009 to 319 days in 2013.

Finally, in 2009 the regional district had a 31 per cent merit ranking for WorkSafeBC assessment while in 2013 the organization had a two per cent demerit ranking, and paid nearly $54,000 in assessment fees.

Cathy Cook, executive director of the B.C. Municipal Safety Association, suggested in her letter to the regional district that there is room for improvement.

“I’m not saying we have any ‘quick fixes’ to help Strathcona Regional District reduce worker injuries and absence duration, but we would be happy to meet with you, your safety advisory (if you have one) and/or your safety committee, to see if there are any suggestions to be made,” Cook said.

Bienvenu acknowledged that in 2009 the number of claims among Strathcona Gardens staff were among the lowest in the province and at that time there was a contracted safety officer on site on a regular basis.

Bienvenu said while he doesn’t want to jump to conclusions, there will be further investigation.

“Both the association and WorkSafeBC have been contacted to obtain further details regarding the 2013 claims,” Bienvenu said. “There are a number of related factors to consider around employee claims and it’s important that the information is analyzed before reaching any conclusions or making recommendations.

“Inspections, assessments, crew talks and training programs have been implemented and management and the JHSC (joint health and safety committee) will continue to work towards improvements in these areas to reduce the risks of injury for staff,” he added. “Strathcona Gardens is committed to continuously improving its occupational health and safety performance. It is a good business practice and the responsibility of all staff.”

Bienvenu said regional district staff will prepare a full report of the Workers’ Compensation claims for 2013 and bring that to the Strathcona Gardens Commission for recommendations.