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WorkplaceNL minister, industry meeting on safety, compensation matters

Province recently modernized mental stress policy, increased income replacement rate
| www.cos-mag.com
Newfoundland fishing boats

Due to recent changes to occupational health and safety and workers' compensation policies, the WorkplaceNL minister is meeting with industry to discuss changes and work towards improving safety.

Within the past several months, the income replacement rate for injured workers in Newfoundland and Labrador was increased from 80 per cent to 85 per cent of their pre-injury (before tax) net income. WorkplaceNL also modernized its mental stress policy to recognize that work-related mental stress issues may be caused by exposure to multiple traumatic events. The policy now includes events that are an inherent part of an occupation such as first responders witnessing fatalities.

Additionally, the lost-time injury rate in fish processing is more than double the provincial rate, which is deeply concerning, said Sherry Gambin-Walsh, minister responsible for WorkplaceNL. She recently attended a meeting in Gander, N.L. of the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) Industrial/Retail/Offshore Council. 

“Working together, we can find solutions to the many health and safety challenges found in fish processing plants throughout the province," she said.

The meeting supported the five-year workplace injury prevention strategy launched earlier this year by WorkplaceNL and the Occupational Health and Safety Division of Service NL, after consultation with injury prevention partners. The strategy encourages collaboration with all workplace parties and safety partners to build a strong safety culture in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Safe and healthy workplaces is a priority for all FFAW-Unifor members, many of whom live and work in rural communities. For our Industrial-Retail-Offshore members, fish processing continues to lag behind other sectors when it comes to significant, long-term safety issues,” said Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor president. “We appreciate the opportunity to engage directly with Minister Gambin-Walsh and look forward to continuing to work with her and WorkplaceNL to ensure every worker gets home safe at the end of the day.”

The workplace injury rate in the province has declined 29 per cent over the last decade, and has plateaued at an all-time low of 1.5 per 100 workers for the past three years.

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