The number of workplace incidents causing injury in the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division have declined through the first six months of the year, according to a safety report provided at the school board’s regular meeting on Sept. 13.
Education director Robert Bratvold gives the report each year. It outlines Workers Compensation Board (WCB) data from January to July 2021. The report stated that incidents causing injury declined to 15 in 2021. In 2019 there were 45 and in 2020 there were 20.
“It's a great opportunity to share a little bit about the growing culture of safety in our system,” Bratvold said. “We have got work to do, but we have done some good work so far in terms of helping people see safety as a way of working, a way of being, (and) not just a thing you check off (a list), so we are making some good progress.”
Saskatchewan Rivers is one of the only school divisions that is COR Certified. In support of that certification, an external audit is completed every three years. The next one will occur in 2021. These external audits are one of the many pieces that contribute to their safety program.
The data set included information on 909 school division employees. It shows 293 days lost to injury.
The lost wages cost estimate was $45,614.24, with $34,442.38 reimbursed in lost wages. The cost to the division for all injuries was $11,1717.86.
The employees in the data includes CUPE employees, CUPE substitute employees, contract employees, out of scope employees and substitute teachers. WCB data does not include teachers.
Bratvold said the year was a bit different because of COVID-19
“We definitely missed some school extra time,” he explained. “No one was in the buildings over that two weeks over Christmas, (so) there was some time there, and there were people away for periods of time with COVID isolations so that's one piece.
“There was less actual activity in our schools in lots of ways that could result in injury, but the other thing is people's consciousness is much more attuned to safety,” he added. “A lot of it is related to COVID-19 prevention, safety, hand sanitization, masking, social distancing and things like that. When you think about that safety, it makes the general idea of safety a little more prominent and that's a good thing.”
During the discussion, trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor suggested that the report be made into an actual board accountability report similar to the HR Report the board received last. Bratvold said that is a positive evolution in the thinking of the trustees.
“We have been providing this report just as information for discussion, I would say, for three or four years now,” he said. “With that increased attention, it becomes a little more prominent again so that this should be an officially approved accountability report not just for board consideration.”
During the discussion, the work of Superintendent of Facilities Mike Hurd on the file was also lauded by various trustees. “I think that is great attention that the board is paying to safety and it demonstrated the value they placed in it to elevate this to a formal accountability report,” Bratvold said.
Key actions for the next year include providing advice and direction on safety measures in the COVID-19 response plan and ensuring that an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committees and established and effective among other items.
According to a release, the Board is committed to Mission Zero and knows that the only acceptable number of workplace injuries is zero so it sees opportunities and an obligation to continue reducing workplace injuries.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald