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 2
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 workers covered by the WSIB have grown by nine per cent and the number of registered claims have decreased by 25 per cent, while the lost-time injury rate was 18 per cent lower than 2011. 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 had a 30 per cent decrease, and the number of allowed lost-time claims also decreased with a 29 per cent reduction from 2019 to 2020, while the 2020 lost-time injury rate was 29 per cent lower than 2019. There was also a 15% increase in the number of days lost within one month post injury from 8.1 days in 2019 to 9.3 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. However, the percentage of Schedule 2 employers covered by WSIB remained relatively the same with a 0.2% increase in 2020 versus 2019, which is similar to the 0.4% increase in coverage seen in 2019 versus 2018. Although not as pronounced as the impact in Schedule 1, the pandemic’s impact can also be seen in the changes to the injury profiles in 2020. In 2019, exposures to caustic, noxious, or allergic substances was the eighth leading injury event, but in 2020 it was the second leading event. In 2019 body systems was the fourth leading part of body injured, but in 2020 it was the first. Both trend shifts reflect the impact of COVID-19 on workplace health and safety claims.
The pandemic also led to a shift in the occupation breakdown of injured workers in 2020 with the occupation classified as Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services entering the top five leading occupation for lost time injuries, accounting for 6.6% of injuries compared to 3.4% of injuries in 2019. Most of the top twenty occupations saw a decrease in injury volumes in 2020, but some occupations did see an increase including: Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services, Nurse supervisors and registered nurses, and Other technical occupations in health care (except dental).
Schedule 2: Common characteristics of allowed lost-time claims in 2020
Continued focus on high-impact claims
High-impact claims are a category of allowed lost-time claims that involve injuries related to the lower 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 23 per cent of all Schedule 2 lost-time benefit payments, and 23 per cent of all lost-time claims. The overall percentage of Schedule 2 high-impact lost-time 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 10% in 2020, and the percent of all lost-time claims was 21%.
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 9.3 days in 2020. The percentage of people receiving loss-of-earnings benefits at three months after an injury or illness increased slightly to 19 per cent in 2020 from 16 per cent in 2019. The percentage of people receiving loss-of-earnings benefits at six months increased to 12 per cent in 2020 from 11 per cent in 2019.
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. Our aim is 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.
As the Province moves forward into the subsequent stages of re-opening and as the post-pandemic economy emerges, 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.