Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2022;48(4):273-282    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.4013 | Published online: 09 Feb 2022, Issue date: 01 May 2022

Higher unemployment and higher work-related traumatic fatality: trends and associations from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, 2007–2018

by Essien SK, Trask C, Feng C

Objective Although Saskatchewan appears to have the greatest burden of work-related fatality (WRF) in Canada, it is unclear how WRF rates have varied over time. We investigated the WRF rate in Saskatchewan over the past decade and modeled potential risk factors for WRF, including economic indicators.

Methods In this cross-sectional, population-based study, Saskatchewan workplace traumatic fatalities grouped by year, season, and worker characteristics (eg, age, industry) were used in addition to Statistics Canada labor force survey total employment, total labor force, and the number of unemployed workers by year and season. WRF rates were calculated as fatalities per total number of employed workers. A Poisson generalized additive model was employed to examine the association between WRF rates and personal characteristics, and economic indicators.

Results The rate remained fairly stable between 2013–2014 and 2015–2017 but sharply increased from 2017 to 2018. On average, the highest rate was observed among workers aged ≥60 years (0.70 ± 0.21 per 100 000). Men had a more than 13-fold greater risk of WRF than women [relative risk (RR)13.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 10.48–17.9), with the highest RR of WRF observed in the construction industry (RR 9.2, 95% CI 6.1–13.8). The risk of mortality increased non-linearly with increasing unemployment rate, with instability as the unemployment rate reaches the highest modeled values.

Conclusion Workplace fatality in the province has fluctuated over the past decade, with differential impact observed among industry groups. Furthermore, an increase in the unemployment rate was followed by an increase in mortality risk. Prioritizing and encouraging prevention strategies during periods of economic recessions could help address the incidence of fatalities at work.