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1 WorksafeBC 2012 statistics

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3 2012 Key statistics B.C. injured workers 1 Men...64% Women % Average age Young workers (age 15 24)... 6,655 (13%) Older workers (age 55 and over)... 9,455 (18%) 64% 36% Claims Injuries reported ,865 Claims first paid this year...104,710 Fatal claims Short-term disability claims ,145 Occupational disease claims ,390 Percentage of claims disallowed...7.6% Days lost from work million Average time to first payment (from day of disablement) days Average length of short-term wage-loss benefits days 41 injured worker average age 144,865 injuries reported 2.9 million days lost from work 1 Based on claims first paid for short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatal benefits. 2 These claims represent those that received first payment of benefits. 3

4 Contents Contents Introduction Foreword Back Strain Injury Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Claims with time loss accepted by WorkSafeBC, Gender 15 Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Gender distribution of back strain injury accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Distribution of employment and injuries between genders, Estimated injury rate for back strain injury, Age 18 Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by age group, Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by age group, Distribution of back strain injury and all other injuries by age group, Age distribution of back strain injury accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Distribution of back strain injury and employment by age group, Type of incident 23 Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by incident type, Distribution of back strain injury and other injuries by incident type, Occupation 25 Proportion of back strain injury relative to all injuries by broad occupation group, Distribution of back strain injury and other injuries by broad occupation group, Distribution of back strain injury by individual occupation group, Industry 29 Distribution of back strain injury and other injuries by subsector, Subsector distribution of back strain injury accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by subsector, Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by subsector, Distribution of back strain injury by subsector, Duration 33 Estimated duration, Fatalities 34 Conclusion 34 4 Contents

5 Contents continued Fatalities Table 1-1: Reported fatalities and all reported injuries, Table 1-2: Deaths occurring in 2012 and reported by March 31, Table 1-3: Claims accepted for fatal benefits, by category of injury or disease, Table 1-4: Claims accepted for fatal benefits by subsector, Claims accepted for fatal benefits by sector, Table 1-5: Listing of claims accepted for fatal benefits, Claims accepted for fatal benefits by age at time of death and category of disease or injury, Claim Count & General Table 2-1: Number and cost of claims, Table 2-2: Distribution of costs by type of claim, 2011 and Table 2-3: Work injuries reported and claims first paid, Table 2-4: Claims and claim costs by provincial regional district, Table 2-5: Claims first paid by subsector and type of claim, Table 2-6: Claims first paid by type of claim, Table 2-7: Health care-only, short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatal claims first paid, by subsector, 2011 and Table 2-8: Days lost and claims first paid by year of injury, Table 2-9: Days lost from work by subsector, Charts 2-10a f: Key indicators in WorkSafeBC Statistics Table 2-11: Injury rates and relief-adjusted short-term disability duration for rateable subsectors, Claim Costs Injury rate, duration, and average person-years by subsector, Injury rates by rateable subsector, Relief-adjusted duration by rateable subsector, Chart 3-1: Claim costs by type of benefit, Chart 3-2: Claim costs by type of claim, Table 3-3: Claim costs charged by subsector and type of claim, Table 3-4: Claim costs charged by type of claim, Claim Analysis (from different perspectives) Short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatal claims first paid by type of incident, Table 4-1: Claims first paid in 2012, by subsector, type of incident, average weekly wage, and number of days lost by subsector, Contents 5

6 Contents Contents continued Table 4-2: Days lost, average weekly wage, average age, and breakdown by gender for claims first paid, Short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatal claims first paid by gender, Table 4-3: Claims first paid by sector, gender, and age group, Table 4-4: Claims first paid by type of injury, Short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatal claims first paid by type of injury, Table 4-5: Back strain claims first paid, Back strain claims and days lost as a percentage of total claims and all days lost, Premium Statistics Premium statistics (rateable employers) Service Statistics Voice of the Customer Injured workers rating of their overall experience Injured workers rating of the overall decision on their claims Injured workers rating of WorkSafeBC claim staff Injured workers rating of assistance with their return to work Employers rating of their overall experience Employers rating of the claim process Employers rating of worksite inspections Employers rating of WorkSafeBC premiums Teleclaim Teleclaim number of workers reporting injuries, Teleclaim interpretation services languages requested, Telephone interpretation services: All service areas Telephone interpretation services, 2011 and Top five languages requested, Top WorkSafeBC requesters of service, Employer Service Centre Telephone calls received, 2011 and Telephone queue service levels average monthly, 2011 and Internet WorkSafeBC.com total page visits, WorkSafeBC.com multi-language page visits, Viewings of multimedia information, Contents

7 Contents continued Health care Health care costs, Average timelines for transactions, Health care provider portal Number of health care providers paid by year, Self-service channels Percentage of assessment transactions conducted through self-service channels, Prevention Statistics Prevention activity hours (percentage of total) Prevention activity Prevention documents Orders Incident investigations Compliance activity WorkSafeBC call centre number of queries and phone calls Total number of call centre calls Total number of external queries Occupational hygiene technical services WorkSafeBC-funded health and safety associations Serious Injury Rate Chart 5-1: Serious injury rates Chart 5-2: Serious injury claims by claimant characteristics Chart 5-3: Serious injury claims by incident and injury characteristics Regional District Maps Regional district name list, by number Injury rate by regional district, Short-term disability duration by regional district, Percentage of claims that are serious injury claims by regional district, Single-incident accepted fatality claims, Appendices Appendix A: Classes of industry Appendix B: Telephone interpretation services Glossary Index Contents 7

8

9 Introduction

10 Introduction Foreword WorkSafeBC Statistics 2012 is published annually as a complement to the operational and financial reviews covered in WorkSafeBC s 2012 Annual Report and Service Plan. Its purpose is to serve as a foundation for better understanding the causes and patterns of areas of injury, with a view to exploring and initiating prevention strategies. As each edition focuses on a single, special topic, there is also latitude for investigating topics in greater scope and detail. Data and information help workers, employers, and WorkSafeBC better comprehend why injuries happen which is essential if we are to more effectively manage work-related risks and injuries. Ultimately, this publication also serves as an important reminder that statistics are not simply numbers; at the source of every statistic is a person. We hope you find WorkSafeBC Statistics 2012 an informative and engaging read. What s inside WorkSafeBC Statistics 2012 includes statistics covering key areas of operation, such as claims, assessments, prevention, and service. Largely following the style and format of previous editions, the 2012 edition now includes mobile and YouTube views, as well as some basic infographics for easy reference. Back strain injury This year s edition of WorkSafeBC Statistics 2012 examines the topic of back strain injury in detail, exploring the relationships between the potential factors, and data from the last 30 years, to shine a spotlight on an area of injury that affected between 12,000 and 15,000 workers over the last 10 years responsible for more work days lost than any other injury type. Back injury is widespread, affecting almost one in five people in British Columbia. Some back strain injuries stem from non-work-related causes. However, the majority of these injuries are the result of other causes, and often take place in the workplace, making the equation far more complex. Not surprisingly, the potential factors for back strain injury are many and varied, including gender, age, incident type, occupation, and industry. What s clear is that back strain injury is all too common in B.C., and that there is certainly more we workers, employers, and WorkSafeBC can do to reduce incidence. As with all workplace injuries, there may be no single solution. But in better understanding back strain injury and its factors, together we can make progress in finding additional solutions. To learn more, see page 12. Visit WorkSafeBC.com for more information. 10

11 Back Strain

12 Older Workers Back Strain Back Strain Injury 1 in 5 people working in B.C. has back problems In British Columbia, it s fair to say back injuries are widespread. According to Statistics Canada 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey, almost one in five people working in B.C. has back problems. Naturally, these issues can impact a worker s general well-being and ability to do their job. Back strain injury accounted for nearly one-quarter of time-loss claims accepted by WorkSafeBC in the last 10 years. Of these cases, almost all 98 percent were classified as strain injury, while the remainder were mainly impact injury. But what is back strain injury? Generally, it results from sprain or strain to the back muscles or ligaments, spinal cord, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, or coccyx. Back strain injury can affect any worker, and different factors that can play a role in causing back strain injury including gender, age, incident type, occupation, and industry. These pages shed further light on back strain injury, first exploring trends, then examining specific influencing factors in greater depth, including gender, age, incident type, occupation, and industry. The section concludes with some final thoughts that underscore how prominent back strain injury is today. 12 Back Strain

13 Numbers and trends Over the past 30 years or so, back strain injury has been responsible for a steady share of work injuries with time loss. Though the number of cases has varied from year to year, as the following chart shows, the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries has ranged between 22 and 26 percent. 40% Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries has ranged between 22 and 26 percent 30% 20% Each year between 2003 and 2012, back strain injury affected between 12,000 and 15,000 workers in B.C., responsible for more days lost than any other injury type totalling more than 140,000 claims and accounting for 23 percent of all time-loss claims accepted. Also, as shown in the chart below, back strain injuries comprised 20 percent of total work days lost and 18 percent of all claim costs during the same period. Cause for concern is that there has only been a slight decline in these proportions over time. 30% Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, % 10% Days lost Claims costs Back Strain 13

14 Older Workers Back Strain For all injuries in B.C., the number of time-loss claims increased between 2003 and 2007, declined between 2008 and 2010, and rebounded again in With a relatively stable proportion to all injuries as shown in the figure below back strain injury follows a somewhat similar pattern.. the next two most common body parts injured fingers and legs accounted for only about 11 and 9 percent of cases with time loss Claims with time loss accepted by WorkSafeBC, ,000 60,000 40,000 20, All injuries Back strain injury A snapshot of body parts: where the back fits in To get a real sense of how significant back strain injuries are, it helps to put things into context by looking at injuries to other body parts. As shown below, after the back, at 24 percent, the next two most common body parts injured fingers and legs accounted for only about 11 and 9 percent of cases with time loss accepted by WorkSafeBC during the period. Ankle 5% Multiple body parts 7% Shoulder 8% Other 36% Leg 9% Fingers 11% Back 24% 14 Back Strain

15 We now turn to examining the various factors involved in back strain injury, including gender, age, incident type, occupation, and industry, as well as exploring the relationships between and among these various factors. Gender In the past decade, about two-thirds of all back strain injury claimants were men. However, while the majority of back strain injuries were sustained by men, women were more likely to have back strain injury. In 1980, approximately 26 percent of all claims made by women were for back strain injury, compared to 22 percent for men. Since then, over time, there has been year-to-year variation, with a general downward trend for women but a relatively stable trend for men. In 2012, these proportions were 23 percent for women and 22 percent for men. An interesting finding is shown in the chart that follows. It suggests that although a larger proportion of women experienced back strain injury across all years, the gender difference has actually been narrowing since the early 1990s with proportions being almost the same in recent years. What could account for this change? It may be that the characteristics of the jobs men and women are undertaking, have become more similar over time. Gender is one factor that must be considered in better understanding back strain injury, with variations in incidence patterns observed over time between men and women. 30% Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, % 10% Men Women Back Strain 15

16 Older Workers Back Strain women have been increasingly concentrated in industries and occupations where incidents leading to back strain injury may tend to occur Back strain: then and now The share of claims made by women for back strain injury has actually increased continuously. In 2012, women accounted for nearly 40 percent of all back strain injury claims, compared to just under 15 percent in This increase largely reflects the growing participation of women in the labour force, mirroring the shift towards a service economy as well as the expansion of workers compensation coverage for British Columbia s services-producing sector. Between 1987 and 2012, the number of women in services-producing grew more than 90 percent 1 where most of their claims originated. For men, this increase totalled 63 percent. In part, the numbers suggest women have been increasingly concentrated in industries and occupations where incidents leading to back strain injury may tend to occur. Gender distribution of back strain injury accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, % 80% 60% 40% 20% Men Women Looking at the work picture more generally over the last decade, while accounting for 53 percent of B.C. s employment, two-thirds of all injured workers were men. As the following table suggests, this proportion also extended to back strain injury claims over the period. 1 Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. 16 Back Strain

17 Distribution of employment and injuries between genders, Men Women Total Total employment per Labour Force 53% 47% 100% Survey All injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC 67% 33% 100% with time loss Back strain injury 66% 34% 100% the injury rate gap between the two genders is narrowing For both genders, between 2003 and 2010 there was a downward trend in the estimated injury rate for back strain injuries, though for women the yearly variation was comparatively mild. This said, generally the injury rates for men and women have been converging since the mid-1990s. This finding is similar to the trend for the proportion of back strain injury relative to all injuries, where the gap between the two genders is narrowing. Estimated injury rate 1 for back strain injury, Number of claims per 100 person-years of covered employment Men Women 1 Rated employers only. Back Strain 17

18 Older Workers Back Strain Age years 26% In the past decade, as age increased, back strain injury claims made up an increasing proportion of all injury claims peaking in the age group, and declining with age. Between 2003 and 2012, 26 percent of claims sustained by workers between ages 35 and 44 were from back strain injury. By comparison, back strain injury accounted for 19 percent of total injuries for workers aged 15 24, and only 11 percent for those 65 and older. In fact, workers in these two age groups were least likely to sustain back strain injury years 65+ years Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by age group, Age group Back strain injury Other injuries Total 19% 11% 15 to 24 years 19% 81% 100% 25 to 34 years 25% 75% 100% 35 to 44 years 26% 74% 100% 45 to 54 years 24% 76% 100% 55 to 64 years 21% 79% 100% 65 years and older 11% 89% 100% Looking at age and back strain injury relative to all injury, the following chart shows that except for those in the oldest age group 65 and older 2 the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries for all age groups was relatively stable over time. 1 For workers 65 and older, the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries further declined with age. 2 For workers 65 and older, it ranged from 6 to 16 percent during the past decade. 18 Back Strain

19 Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, % 20% 10% Ages Ages Ages Ages Ages Ages 65+ A closer look at age and gender During the past decade, the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries peaked in the age group for both men (25 percent) and women (26 percent). These numbers mirror general trends and are not surprising as, according to Statistic Canada s Labour Force Survey, the age group was B.C. s largest employment group until As the table below shows, there was little variation between the two genders during the same period, with one exception: women aged 65 and older were more likely than men to experience back strain injury. Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by age group, Age group Men Women 15 to 24 years 19% 20% 25 to 34 years 24% 25.9% 1 35 to 44 years 25% 26.2% 1 45 to 54 years 24% 24% 55 to 64 years 21% 22% 65 years and older 10% 16% When it comes to the proportion of back strain injuries by ages, there is little variation between the two genders 1 The extra decimal place shows ordering, which would not be evident if the figures were rounded. Back Strain 19

20 Older Workers Back Strain Distribution of back strain injury by age Just as the proportion of back strain injury to all injuries differs by age, the distribution of back strain injury also differs among age groups. From 2003 to 2012, more than 27 percent of back strain injury claims occurred to workers between 35 and 44. Closely following were the and age groups, at 26 and 23 percent respectively. As the table below shows, the youngest and oldest workers made up a smaller percentage of back strain injury claims than all other injury claims. By contrast, workers in the core age groups (from to 45 54) accounted for a slightly larger proportion of back strain injury claims than all other injury claims. Distribution of back strain injury and all other injuries by age group, Age group Distribution of back strain injury Distribution of other injuries 15 to 24 years 13% 16% 25 to 34 years 23% 21% 35 to 44 years 27% 24% 45 to 54 years 26% 25% 55 to 64 years 11% 12% 65 years and older <1% 2% 100% 100% Age <9% 14% 31% 24% Notable increase and decrease While there was yearly variation across all groups, workers aged experienced a general increase accounting for more than 14 percent of all back strain injury claims in 2012, compared to less than 9 percent in This increase may reflect the extended working life of older workers and their engagement in industries and occupations where incidents leading to back strain injury may tend to occur. By contrast, workers aged 35 to 44 accounted for 24 percent of all back strain injury claims in 2012 down from more than 31 percent in It s believed this decline is linked to a related drop in employment in this age group over the same period. 20 Back Strain

21 Age distribution of back strain injury accepted by WorkSafeBC with time loss, % 30% 20% 10% Ages Ages Ages Ages Ages Ages 65+ While back strain injury claims were mostly made by workers between 25 and 54, this trend largely reflects men s patterns associated with back strain injury. During the period, men comprised two-thirds of all back strain injury claims; nearly three-quarters of these claimants were between 25 and 54 years old. This same age group represented 68 percent of men employed. The distribution of back strain injury claims by age group differs between men and women. Women experiencing back strain injury tend to be older than their male counterparts. Of back strain injury claims involving women in the past 10 years, almost 70 percent were among workers aged 35 and older, an age group representing 63 percent of women employed. By comparison, proportions were 62 and 65 percent respectively for men. Back Strain 21

22 Older Workers Back Strain Distribution of back strain injury and employment by age group, Age group Distribution of back strain injury Men Distribution of employment Distribution of back strain injury Women Distribution of employment 15 to 24 years 14% 14% 11% 16% 25 to 34 years 24% 21% 20% 21% 35 to 44 years 27% 23% 27% 23% 45 to 54 years 24% 24% 30% 25% 55 to 64 years 10% 15% 12% 13% 65 years and older 1% 3% 0.5% 2% 100% 100% 100% 100% The ages when men and women are likely to experience back strain injury differ. Between 2003 and 2012, the median age of claimants with back strain injury was 39 years for men and 42 years for women. 22 Back Strain

23 Type of incident Here s a sample of comments included on claims received by WorkSafeBC from workers experiencing back strain injury: I was backing up my vehicle to put a trailer on the back of a hitch which was off by a couple of inches. With my co-worker, I pushed the trailer by planting my feet and leaning forward to extend my body. I felt something pop on the left side of my middle back. My client fell out of his wheelchair during a transfer from wheelchair to vehicle. I helped him up, from the ground to the wheelchair, and felt a sudden sharp pain to my left lower back. I was opening a metal sliding door, which opened upwards, and got the door to a height where I could stand straight and upright. While I had my arms fully extended above my head to lift and push the door, I felt a crack to my lower back. Back strain injury is caused by a wide range of factors, so any exploration of trends and findings on this topic must naturally explore incident type. Among different incident types, overexertion is the biggest contributor to back strain injury. More than two-thirds of back strain injury claims between 2003 and 2012 resulted from overexertion. Impact of overexertion Overexertion was more likely to lead to back strain injury than other incident type. In the past decade, 53 percent of injuries resulting from overexertion were classified as back strain injury. The second leading type of incident voluntary motion accounted for 45 percent of injuries resulting, with the third leading type of incident involuntary motion at 18 percent. Overexertion usually stems from non-impact incidents, from excessive physical effort directed at an outside source. The physical effort may involve lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, or throwing the source of injury. A voluntary motion is the execution of a personal movement, such as walking, climbing, or bending, where the movement was the source of injury. By contrast, an involuntary motion is usually induced by sudden noise, fright, or efforts to recover from something unexpected such as slips, commonly seen in those working on slippery floors. Back Strain 23

24 Older Workers Back Strain Proportion of back strain injury to all injuries by incident type, Type of incident Back strain injury Other injuries Total Overexertion 53% 47% 100% Voluntary motion 45% 55% 100% Involuntary motion 18% 82% 100% Vehicle incident 14% 86% 100% Falls 14% 86% 100% Between 2003 and 2012, overexertion was the most common type of incident, accounting for between 67 and 70 percent of back strain injury claims. The second-largest contributor was falls, including both falls from elevation and falls on the same level, varying between 11 and 12 percent per year. Together, these incident types accounted for more than 80 percent of all back strain injury claims in the past decade. Worth noting is that while overexertion was the most frequent incident type, accounting for 69 percent of back strain injury between 2003 and 2012, it only contributed to 18 percent of all other claim types. Falls and voluntary motion accounted for another 12 and 11 percent of back strain injury claims. Distribution of back strain injury and other injuries by incident type, Type of incident Distribution of back strain injury Distribution of other injuries Overexertion 69% 18% Falls 12% 22% Voluntary motion 11% 4% Involuntary motion 3% 4% Vehicle incident 2% 4% Other 4% 48% 100% 2 100% 2 That the majority of back strain injury claims were from overexertion suggests this type of injury largely results from excessive physical effort beyond a worker s capacity. Between 2003 and 2012, more than 92 percent of back strain injury claims resulting from overexertion were caused by lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, or throwing objects. Thirty-seven percent of the time, the objects involved were containers (such as boxes and pails); 13 percent of incidents resulted from the movement of persons; and 10 percent resulted from building materials. 1 Top five incident types only. 2 Due to rounding, percentage figures in some tables may not add up to 100 percent. 24 Back Strain

25 Two-thirds of overexertion incidents were attributed to men, consistent with general findings relating to gender and back strain injury claims. Injury from falls Nearly 12 percent of all back strain injury claims in the same period resulted from falls (22 percent for all other injuries). Of back strain injury claims resulting from falls, 41 percent of workers were aged 45 and older, in comparison, this age group accounted for only 25 percent of all other injuries involving falls. Workers aged 45 and older accounted for 36 percent of back strain injury cases due to overexertion, and almost the same proportion (41 percent) due to voluntary motion. Of fall incidents experienced by women with back strain injury claims, more than three-quarters were attributed to falls on the same level due to loss of balance or other factors. For men, fall incidents were equally shared between falls on the same level and falls from elevation, such as a roof or ladder. Injury from voluntary motion From , another 11 percent of back injury strain claims resulted from some kind of voluntary motion, while this proportion was four percent for all other injuries. Of workers experiencing back strain injury from voluntary motion, 57 percent were injured from motions such as bending, reaching, or twisting, 1 while 26 percent resulted from static postures where force was applied to an object. Occupation General thinking around back strain injury has typically been that it is limited to occupation groups requiring heavy physical work. Yet, over the years it has become increasingly evident that workers performing other types of work also experience significant back strain injury. In fact, the risk of experiencing back strain injury relates directly to the nature of the worker s daily tasks. A closer look at specific occupations Between 2003 and 2012, among claimants in various broad occupation groups, workers in health care and medical fields had the highest proportion of back strain injury to total injuries (33 percent). This is likely because a large part of daily routine in health- and medicine-related occupations involves assisting and handling patients, which may require lifting, bending, and forceful exertion placing a high level of stress on the back. To illustrate, of claims with time loss accepted by WorkSafeBC during the past decade from ambulance attendants and paramedics, almost 45 percent were classified as back strain injury. After health and medicine, clerical and materials-handling occupations had a proportion of back strain injury to total injuries of 27 percent during the same period. These two broad It s easy to overlook occupation as a factor in back strain injury, but the reality is that some occupations are more prone to this type of injury than others. 1 Occupation-wise, slightly more than 30 percent of workers injured by a motion such as bending, reaching, or twisting were employed in retail sales, service occupations, and construction trades. Back Strain 25

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