The WSIB is one of the most comprehensive workplace injury and illness compensation boards in North America. Between Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 businesses, we cover 16 industries and businesses that are self-insured in Ontario. In 2020, we served more than 5.2 million employees and over 300,000 businesses, registered just over 200,000 claims, and issued $2.96 billion in benefit payments. The WSIB is committed to making sure that the insurance system for businesses and employees is sustainable and continues to improve outcomes for anyone with a workplace injury or illness.
Summary of performance for Schedule 1
The WSIB’s integrated recovery and return-to-work approach continues to focus on positive outcomes for both the injured and ill people and the businesses we serve. Over the past 10 years, the number of people covered by the WSIB has grown by 29 per cent, while the number of registered claims has decreased by 13 per cent. However, in 2020, the workplace health and safety system was among the many areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to some 2020 results for WSIB departing from the historical trends.
In 2020, registered claim volumes went down by 20 per cent compared to 2019, while the percentage of those covered by WSIB went down by nine per cent. In 2020, the number of allowed lost-time claims also decreased with a one per cent reduction from 2019 to 2020.However, there was a nine per cent increase in the lost-time injury rate from 0.98 in 2019 to 1.07 in 2020. There was also a 19% increase in the number of days lost within one month post injury from 7.9 days in 2019 to 9.4 days in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic also disrupted the financial stability of many industries within Ontario’s economy, with some sectors experiencing a larger strain than others. This financial disruption was seen in the mix of industries that were covered by WSIB in 2020. Last year, the services industry accounted for 35% of the industries covered by WSIB, which is consistent with the past 10 years. However in 2020, this industry accounted for only seven per cent of industries covered, reflecting the reduction in this industry due to pandemic restrictions. The pandemic’s impact can also be seen in the changes to the injury profiles in 2020. In 2019 overexertion was the leading injury event, and low back was the leading part of body injured. In 2020, exposures to caustic, noxious, or allergic substances was the leading event, and body systems was the leading part of body injured, both reflecting the impact of COVID-19 on workplace health and safety claims.
The pandemic also producedchanges in the demographics we collect. Women accounted for 40 per cent of lost-time injuries in 2019, which has held fairly consistent over the past 10 years. However, this chanced in 2020 with women now accounting for 45 per cent of lost-time injuries. There was also a shift in the occupation breakdown of injured workers in 2020. The occupation classified as‘Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services’ was the leading occupation for lost-time injuries, accounting for 17.6 per cent of injuries compared to 7.6 per cent of injuries in 2019. Most occupations saw a decrease in injury volumes in 2020, but some occupations did see an increase including: Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services, Professional Occupations in Health, Technical and Skilled Occupations in Health, and Agricultural workers.
Common characteristics of allowed lost-time claims in 2020
Workplaces, people, and claims
On January 1, 2020, the WSIB introduced a new rate setting model that changed the way businesses are classified and how premium rates are set. The new premium rate setting model is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). NAICS is a North American standard, already used by Statistics Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, and has helped to simplify and streamline our classifications from 155 rate groups down to just 35 NAICS groups. This model also provides an approach that ensures a fair premium for workplace coverage that is based on each employer’s individual risk and claims experience.
As a result of the implementation of the new rate setting model in 2020, how we classify industries has significantly changed and can no longer be compared to past industry classifications. In 2020, the five industry sectors Construction, Governmental and Related Services, Leisure and Hospitality, Manufacturing, Non-Hospital Healthcare and Social Assistance, Retail and Transportation and Warehousing made up 80 per cent of allowed lost-time claims. In addition, Construction, Government and Related Services, Leisure and Hospitality, Manufacturing, Non-Hospital Healthcare and Social Assistance, Professional Scientific and Technical, Retail and Wholesale industries made up 80 per cent of people covered by the WSIB. Next year we will re-start prior year comparisons as we continue to gather data under the new model.
Continued focus on high-impact claims
High-impact claims are a category of allowed lost-time claims that involve injuries related to the low back, shoulders, and fractures. These types of injuries usually have higher treatment costs and longer recovery times. Over the past five years, high-impact claims made up 39 per cent of all lost-time benefit payments, and 29 per cent of all lost-time claims. The overall percentage of Schedule 1 high impact claims has gone down over the past five years. In 2020, the percentage of claims and benefit payments due to high impact claims was impacted by the pandemic as they were both lower than what has been seen over the past 5 years. The percent of benefit payments from high impact claims was 31% in 2020, and the percent of all lost-time claims was 24%.
Access to timely, quality health care is important to supporting recovery and return-to-work efforts for injured or ill employees and businesses, and will continue to be a focus for high impact claims.
Recovery and return-to-work outcomes
The average number of days lost within one month after an injury or illness increased to 9.4 days in 2020. In 2020, the percentage of injured or ill people receiving loss-of-earning benefits at three and six months increased by one per cent from 2019, to 15 and 10 per cent respectively. Benefit payments have seen a decrease of two per cent from 2019 to 2020.
In 2020, our return-to-work and case management staff continued to focus on return-to-work and building case-specific plans for employees and businesses early on in the claim. We want to support injured and ill people to return to productive and safe employment. For businesses, this means less disruption to their workforce, continuity and productivity. We are delighted with the improvements we have achieved with our return-to-work and recovery outcomes.
The WSIB will continue to focus on improving and modernizing our services to make it easier for Ontario businesses and anyone with a workplace injury or illness to work with us and access our benefits and services. We have an ongoing commitment to increase our sustainability, transparency, and improve our systems so that we can continue to provide effective and efficient service to Ontarians.
Data in By the Numbers: 2020 WSIB Statistical Report may not match previously published results. This is due to factors such as data maturity, updated definitions and methodologies, and rounding. Data in By the Numbers is matured three months, with the exception of benefit payments, which represents cash paid during the year, to or on behalf of people injured at work and are not matured three months following year-end. Percentages may not add up due to rounding.