Nova Scotia WCB launches Priority Employer Program to help employers improve safety record

Bridgewater, NS – May 26 – In a speech to the Bridgewater Chamber of Commerce, Nancy MacCready-Williams, Chief Executive Officer of the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia, launched a new program to help companies with poor safety records improve their performance.

Most employers in Nova Scotia take safety very seriously. However, a small number of employers account for a large portion of workers’ compensation costs. These employers have too many injuries, frequent severe injuries or their employees stay off work due to injuries much longer than in other companies. The Priority Employer Program is a voluntary program offered to these employers who have the most potential to improve their safety performance. Workplace safety is an important issue in Nova Scotia. Last year, there were 25 serious workplace injuries every day of the year and 27 people died on the job.

“The Priority Employer Program will help a small group of employers take the steps needed to improve their safety performance,” said MacCready-Williams. “It is another way the WCB is delivering on its mission to reduce the terrible human toll of workplace injuries.”

A limited number of employers will be eligible for the Priority Employer Program based on their safety record relative to similar companies and their costs to the workers’ compensations system. The WCB will offer three levels of service, ranging from information on best safety practices to more hands-on coaching. The Priority Employer Program will attempt to build the market for services offered by private sector safety consultants. Simply put, the program is designed to ensure more companies embrace safety.

“The Priority Employer Program will provide employers with information and guidance so that they can develop effective occupational health and safety systems in their workplaces,” said Stuart MacLean, Vice President of Prevention and Corporate Development. “Acting as facilitators, we will work with the employers to identify areas for improvement and develop action plans to turn around their safety performance. This should help to lower the cost of workers’ compensation for all employers, create demand for Health and Safety services, and create safer workplaces for employees.”

The formal launch of the Priority Employer Program follows the launch earlier this year of the WCB’s new Safety Incentive Program. It makes WCB rate assessments more responsive to an employer’s safety performance. Through this program, employers who take steps to improve their safety performance will see their rates go down more quickly if their costs go down. Similarly, employers who continue to disregard health and safety in their workplaces will see their WCB rates go up faster if their costs increase. The worst offenders will face surcharges.

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia promotes workplace injury prevention and provides comprehensive workplace injury insurance to employers and workers in Nova Scotia.