Industry Spotlight: NAOSH Week (May 6-12)

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Watch your back: WCB recruiting 'back protection agents'

Left to right: Natalie Sabean, RN; Joy Boyce, occupational therapist; Alison McDonald, physiotherapist with the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre. All are Back Protection Agents featured in the WCB’s new marketing campaign urging Nova Scotians to prevent back injuries at work.

(Originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "North American Occupational Safety & Health Week" special advertising feature)

Nova Scotia is getting safer. The province’s workplace injury rate is at a 15-year low.

But there is still a lot of work to do to make workplace injuries a thing of the past. A big part of that challenge is eliminating back injuries.

Back injuries are serious business in Nova Scotia. You probably know someone who hurt his or her back at work. Or perhaps you suffered a back injury.

You’re not alone. Last year, more than 2,000 Nova Scotia workers suffered a serious back injury on the job. That accounts for 30 per cent of all time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia. Back injuries cost the province’s workplace insurance system $7 million annually for income replacement benefits, a cost that is borne by Nova Scotia employers in the form of higher insurance rates. Back injuries hurt people, productivity and profits.

Back injuries happen in every industry in Nova Scotia. Look at the health and social services sectors as one example. Last year, 635 people suffered a serious back injury. That represents almost 41 per cent of all time-loss injuries in this sector. Back injuries are also the most frequent injury in Nova Scotia’s manufacturing industry. There were 228 serious back injuries in manufacturing workplaces last year, accounting for 29 per cent of all the sector’s injuries.

In the construction industry, back injuries are also the most frequent workplace injury. In 2011, 176 workers in the construction industry suffered a serious back injury. That’s 27 per cent of all time-loss injuries in this sector.

In fact, back injuries are generally the most common injury across workplaces throughout Nova Scotia.

This can be changed. Every single back injury is avoidable but it takes awareness, planning and leadership to change the way we work and avoid those injuries.

The Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia is focusing on reducing back injuries. It is recruiting “Back Protection Agents” to take the drive for back safety into Nova Scotia’s workplaces.

As a Back Protection Agent, you will work to protect your friends and co-workers from back injuries on the job. You’ll have their back and they will have yours.  That’s how to reduce the human and economic toll of back injuries in Nova Scotia. Do it together.

You can sign up to become a Back Protection Agent and find out more about keeping your back safe at www.WorkSafeForLife.ca .

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Back safety tips:

• Push, don't pull, whenever possible.

• Try to avoid sudden, quick movements.

• Work with your upper body as close to upright as possible.

• Keep objects that you are lifting or carrying close to your body.

• Make sure you have enough room around you to lift safely.

• Get help before you try to lift a heavy load. Use a dolly or a forklift if you can.

• Don't overdo it. If you have to strain to carry the load, it's too heavy.

Source: WCB of Nova Scotia

*Read more NAOSH Week stories at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight/NAOSH-Week-23618

Organizations: Nova Scotia Business Journal, North American, Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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