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

Compensated Workplace Injuries in Québec in 2010-2012: Statistical Profile by Industry and Occupational Category


This study is part of a process of exploitation of statistical data from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), and census data (replaced by the National Household Survey (NHS) in 2011), a process that began over 30 years ago at the Institut de recherché Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST). It makes it possible to identify groups of workers and industries-occupational categories with the greatest problems in terms of OHS, and provides valuable information for planning research and prevention activities.

This report presents risk indicators for the 2010–2012 period (frequency rate calculated with numbers of full-time equivalent (FTE) workers), severity indicators (average duration of compensation, permanent physical or mental impairment (PPMI)), risk-severity indicators (FTE frequency-severity rate), and indicators for the cost of workplace injuries (including illness) that are accepted and those with compensated time loss. The descriptive characteristics of the injuries are also presented.

The indicators were calculated based on the hours worked, converted into numbers of FTE employees (1 FTE corresponds to 2000 hours worked), instead of being based on workforce in terms of numbers of individuals. FTE employees are used to take into account the significance of atypical work, in particular part-time or casual work, and differences according to age and gender. Distinct indicators for youth (15 to 24 years old), workers aged 55 and over, occupational diseases and targeted industries are also presented. Moreover, classification tables of industries-occupational categories for all workers, according to gender and age group, are presented in the second document of this study: “II – Tableaux de classement par industrie-catégorie professionnelle” (classification table by industry-occupational group).

Over the period 2005–2007 to 2010–2012, the average annual numbers of workplace injuries compensated by the CNESST continued the downward trend that had begun at the end of the 1980s. The decline was observed until 2013, the last year for which compiled statistics were available at the time of the study. This trend is not restricted to Québec, as it is also found everywhere else in Canada.

Manual workers in support activities for agriculture and forestry, specialty trade construction contractors, and those working in mines and quarries, continue to be among the groups of workers with the highest FTE frequency-severity rates. However, the economic activity sectors of services also stand out, with similar rates. Examples of these include manual workers in petroleum and petroleum products merchant wholesalers, waste management and remediation services, accommodation services, electronics and appliances stores and ambulatory health, nursing and residential care facilities. Thus, some industries that are targeted less often stand out only when the indicator is produced by taking into account the industry and the occupational category. The classification of occupations according to occupational category is primarily based on the physical effort required of the worker. There are three occupational categories: manual, non-manual and an intermediate mixed category.

In the period from 2010 to the end of 2012, on average, more than 92,400 injuries were accepted annually by the CNESST, of which almost 69,000 injuries had time-loss compensation. Among both men and women, workers in manual occupations had a much higher rate of injury (6.4 per 100 FTE workers) than workers in non-manual (0.6%) or mixed occupations (2.6%). As well, men sustain more than 66% of workplace injuries with time-loss compensation. This situation is mainly due to the fact that men are found in higher proportions than women in high-risk occupations.

Despite the fact that, for all occupations combined, men have the highest workplace injury frequency-severity rate, the rate is higher for women than men for each occupational category. The higher overall rate among men is mainly due to men and women not being equally distributed throughout the labour force, and not because men incur a higher level of risk of occupational injury. Furthermore, there are some differences in statistical distribution of the injuries by descriptor (injury site, nature, type of accident, causal agent) between men and women.

Differentiated analyses according to age group show that, for the 2010–2012 period, the situation of youth was different, in that their FTE rate was significantly higher than the mean, across all occupations. However, the differences between youth and other age groups are almost inexistent and can even reverse when the occupational category is taken into account. To a large extent, this can be explained by the fact that 15 to 24-year-olds are much more present in manual and mixed occupations. However, severity indicators are higher among workers aged 55 or more than among youth. The study also highlights differences regarding workplace injury descriptors according to age (injury site, nature, type of accident, causal agent).

Occupational diseases represented approximately 6% of the workplace injuries accepted in the 2010–2012 period, i.e., on average, almost 5800 new cases per year. Although they occur less often than workplace accidents, their consequences, on average, are more serious. Thus, almost 69% of employees who had an occupational disease had permanent physical or mental impairment (PPMI), and the average duration of compensation of cases that resulted in absence from work was considerable. Overall, the frequency rate of occupational diseases is higher among male manual and, sometimes, mixed manual workers, in primary industries and manufacturing. The gap between men and women is mainly due to the situation of workers aged 55 and over. Hearing disorders (which affect men more) and musculoskeletal disorders (which affect women more) make up almost 79% and over 12%, respectively, of the accepted occupational diseases, i.e., more than 9 occupational diseases out of 10, in total. Since 2005–2007, the numbers of occupational diseases has increased while the number of workplace accidents has decreased.

The cost of workplace injuries, as estimated in this study, constitutes a comprehensive measure of their impact, as it reflects both the financial and human costs assumed by employers, workers and society. It synthesizes the effect measured by several indicators into a single one. The cost of accepted workplace injuries that occurred over one year is estimated at $4.84 billion (in 2011 dollars), on average, for the 2010–2012 period. The average cost of a workplace injury is $52,400. The average cost of an occupational disease ($211,600) is about five times higher than that of an accident ($41,800). Exposure to noise ($188,100) and transportation accidents ($130,600) are the types of accident or exposure that lead to the highest average cost per injury. Exposure to noise ($777 million) and falls from heights and jumping down ($397 million) are the types of accidents or exposure that result in the highest costs per year.

Chapter 9 presents the industries and occupational categories that are at the top of the list for the principle indicators produced. Fourteen industries and occupational categories with the highest rates of FTE frequency-severity rates of injuries with time-loss compensation represent slightly less than 8% of the labour force, but 24% of injuries with time-loss compensation. Among them, six have among the highest FTE costs per employee. These indicators are therefore very relevant for identifying the groups of workers most affected by the workplace injuries compensated by the CNESST.


This report has an appendix, RA-963.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
Research Project: 2013-0025
Online since: April 25, 2017
Format: Text