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Workplace injuries undercounted: Fairclough

Yukon is improving its workers' compensation statistics by discouraging workers from reporting injuries, says Liberal Eric Fairclough.

Yukon is improving its workers’ compensation statistics by discouraging workers from reporting injuries, says Liberal Eric Fairclough.

He cites a new policy of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, introduced in January, that narrows the conditions under which an employer must report injuries to the board.

Before, all injuries had to be reported. Now employers must only report injuries requiring medical attention beyond simple first aid at the workplace or those that caused a worker to take time off.

“Is this the best plan the government can come up with? Reduce workplace injuries by not reporting them?” Fairclough asked in the legislature on Monday.

But “there’s absolutely nothing to be gained from a statistical perspective,” said Mark Hill, spokesman for the board.

Here’s why.

When the board releases its annual number of Yukon workplace injuries each year, it uses the total number of accepted claims, not—as Fairclough suggests—the total number of reported injuries.

For example, in 2007, the board received 2,023 reports of injuries. But only 1,116 of those reports were accepted as claims.

The board changed the policy because it was producing unnecessary paperwork for employers and the board, said Hill.

“It’s an administrative cost we don’t need. We open a claim file and do nothing with it,” said Hill.

The board announced the changes during a news conference in January.

The problem of having too many injuries being reported is an improvement over several years ago, when “there was a problem with under-reporting of injuries,” said Hill.

Once employers were coaxed into reporting injuries, the board’s next challenge was convincing more employers to report injuries within three days.

They succeeded in this, too.

Now the push is on to cut down on reporting of minor injuries that won’t result in claims.

Workers should continue to report all injuries to their employer to be logged in the company’s first aid book, in case they wish to make a claim in a future date.

But the employer is not expected to report these injuries to the board unless it meets the new criteria.

“That’s how it’s done across Canada,” said Hill.

Contact John Thompson at