IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Evolution of Annual Compensated Work Injury Indicators in Québec from 2007 to 2012


The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) has been producing statistical indicators for occupational health and safety every five years. However, since the last series of five-year indicators was produced, it has become increasingly necessary to obtain information on annual trends. That data will serve to better understand recent changes concerning work injury indicators and to identify the types of injuries, industries and occupational categories for which indicator trends have been a less favourable. The aim is to produce data that will support the IRSST’s research programming.

Between 2007 and 2012, the annual indicators were produced using data on accepted work injuries and on compensated lost-time (CLT) injuries from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), combined with those on the labour force from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS). We adapted the LFS data to obtain an estimate of the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, using the number of hours worked from 2007 to 2012.

In addition to the gross numbers of injuries, the indicators include FTE frequency rates of accepted work injuries, CLT injuries, injuries requiring more than 90 days of CNESST indemnities, and more costly injuries, i.e., those above the 2007 average ($28,014 in constant 2012 dollars). The latter two indicators are used to measure the frequency of injuries that have more serious consequences with respect to numbers of days compensated and costs.

The evolution of these indicators was measured using various regression methods to estimate the value of their average annual variations and to determine whether they were statistically different (p < 0.05) than the reference group. The reference group could vary from one indicator to another, but it is always that for which the relevant indicator shows the greatest improvement during the period of the study, as measured by the average annual variation.

From 2007 to 2012, the number of accepted injuries decreased at an average annual rate of 4.4%, from almost 113,000 to fewer than 91,000. During the same period, CLT injuries fell from slightly more than 86,000 to slightly more than 67,000, for an average annual decrease of 5%. However, these reductions in annual numbers of injuries did not result from a decrease in the number of FTE workers, which increased on average 1.1% per year.

Not only is the reduction in the number of work injuries not the same across the various injury categories, but some of them have risen, instead of falling. For instance, work accidents decreased 4.8%, in terms of the annual average, while the numbers of occupational diseases increased annually to 2.7% between 2007 and 2012. The accepted occupational diseases thus constitute a problem in terms of rising numbers of work injuries, while the number of accepted work accidents is declining.

During the study period, the most serious injuries, with respect to numbers of days compensated, costs or permanent physical and mental impairment (PPMI), decreased less than injuries that were not as serious.

The average cost of accepted injuries, in constant 2012 dollars, increased on average by 4.7% per year, rising from $28,014 in 2007 to $34,869 in 2012, while overall costs remained stable. It appears that there were fewer work injuries in 2012 than in 2007, but that they were more costly.

The analysis of the three FTE frequency rates (i.e., those with CLT injuries, cases in which indemnities were paid for more than 90 days, and the most costly accepted injuries) shows that there are no statistically significant differences in trends according to gender and age between 2007 and 2012. The only exception was that the FTE frequency rate among those aged 55 and over for the most costly injuries remained virtually unchanged, while those of other age groups decreased.

With respect to occupational categories, the FTE frequency indicators of injuries with CLT, the injuries that required more than 90 days of compensation, and the most costly injuries decreased the least among non-manual workers, compared to workers in mixed and manual occupations. It is important to mention that manual workers remain, by far, those with the highest frequency of work injuries.

The FTE frequency rate for traumatic accidents with CLT dropped less than those for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) with CLT, i.e., an annual decrease of 4.8% compared to 7.7% between 2007 and 2012. Thus, in 2012, the gap between the FTE frequency rate for traumatic accidents with CLT (1.4%) and those with MSD (0.8%) is wider than in 2007.

With respect to injury descriptors, hearing disorders, mainly deafness caused by exposure to noise, are one of the rare types of injury to have increased between 2007 and 2012. Another type of accepted injury that also increased was caused by rubbing, abrasion or friction. The number of costly injuries has remained the same or increased slightly for transportation accidents, for exposure to harmful substances and for accidents that occur when the worker is bending forward, climbing or reaching.

There are five industry-occupation categories for which the three frequency indicators decreased less than the reference category in a statistically significant manner, and in certain cases they even increased. They concern workers in two occupation categories, manual and mixed, in local, municipal and regional public administration; manual workers in nursing homes and residential care facilities, ambulatory care and social assistance services; manual workers in accommodation services; and those working in supply stores of every kind. These are the industry-occupation categories that should receive priority attention. Note that they are not necessarily the groups with the highest frequency of FTE injuries, but those for which the rates have followed a less favourable trend over the period studied.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
Research Project: 2012-0036
Online since: May 27, 2016
Format: Text