Controlling Work Hazards Makes Seasonal North Pole Operation Injury-Free

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Nova Scotians still hurting: WCB of NS, NWT and Nunavut

HALIFAX, Dec. 20, 2007 – A northern toy manufacturing operation looks to be headed for yet another safe production season, according to the WCB of Nova Scotia and its colleagues in Canada’s North.

Despite crafting hundreds of millions of toys annually, the world-famous North Pole workshop – which also has a global distribution system – has never reported a workplace injury.

“Our safety officers attribute this workshop’s stellar safety record to an effective health and safety program,” says Dave Grundy, Director, Communications and Information with the Workers’ Compensation Board of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which includes the magnetic North Pole. “In fact, last month, Santa’s workshop became a certified Go Safe Worksite.”

In addition to the busy manufacturing facility, the secretive operation’s distribution channels bring a host of additional hazards, which are clearly being well managed. The mix of cold temperatures, air freight operations, heavy lifting of toy-filled sacks, animal husbandry, confined spaces, and visits to slippery rooftops would require stringent hazard identification and control.

Controlling workplace safety hazards is an important concern for all employers – because workplace injury is all too real, says the Nova Scotia WCB. In 2006, there were nearly 6,000 Nova Scotia workplace injuries in manufacturing and nearly 1,500 in transportation and storage.

There were more than 100 real-world injuries related to work on or about rooftops, including 13 falls, and dozens of injuries due to ice and winter conditions.

More than 1,500 Nova Scotians were injured during overexertion in lifting. In fact, 61 per cent of the province’s time-loss injuries were musculoskeletal, stemming primarily from the way work is designed and carried out. Musculoskeletal injury costs more than $20 million in direct compensation and medical costs every year, and an estimated $100 million to $1 billion in indirect costs.

“Regardless of industry, at work and at home, safety shouldn’t be the stuff of make believe. Injury prevention comes from real, concerted efforts at all levels – it’s not magic,” says Nancy MacCready-Williams, CEO of the WCB of Nova Scotia.

“Workplace injury takes an incredible human and financial toll in not just in our province but throughout Canada and the world,” says MacCready-Williams.

“At this time of year, it seems fitting to remind employers and workers how incredibly important workplace safety is. We wish all Nova Scotians a safe and happy holiday season.”

About the WCB of Nova Scotia

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) is committed to keeping Nova Scotians safe and secure from workplace injury. The WCB provides workplace injury insurance for more than 18,000 employers, representing about 300,000 workers across the province. The WCB sets the standard for workplace injury insurance by informing and inspiring Nova Scotians in the prevention of workplace injury. If an injury occurs, we support those whose lives it touches by championing a timely return to safe and healthy work. www.wcb.ns.ca

About the WCB of NWT and Nunavut

The Workers’ Compensation Board of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (WCB) provides compensation to injured workers and promotes workplace safety. With offices in Yellowknife and Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, and Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, the WCB serves northern employers and workers by ensuring they are properly cared for in the event of a workplace injury or illness. In addition, the WCB works hard to prevent workplace incidents from happening in the first place through safety training, industrial and mine safety inspections, targeted social marketing, and innovative safety programs like Go Safe.

The Go Safe program is an exciting partnership between Northern employers and the Workers’ Compensation Board of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (WCB), geared toward improving workplace safety. Go Safe equips employers with support and resources to prevent serious workplace illnesses, incidents, and injuries. www.wcb.nt.ca

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Nova Scotia workplace injury statistics, 2006
Based on registered claims

Nova Scotia                            Total          Time-loss
Manufacturing                          5,976          1338
Transportation                         1,445          478
Agriculture and related services       206            56

Total (all industries)                 31,810         8,274


Injury details (total claims)

Nova Scotia
Involving lifting                      1,569
Falls from rooftops                    13
Primarily due to winter conditions     88

Number of Claims Received by the Nova Scotia WCB, by Accident Date, 2006

December 24, 2006       19
December 25, 2006       12
December 26, 2006       29