Summer road construction season almost always poses a challenge for our members.
The race against time and the unforeseen delays caused by inclement weather are two of the bigger obstacles when it comes to finishing projects in a timely fashion.
But Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association members are now faced with another challenge – one that takes us away from the machinery and asphalt.
Concerns are steadily growing due to a lack of defined policy and protocol within the Workers’ Compensation Board. SHCA members view safety as a top priority and make steps to ensure their employees are safe by providing proper training and safe working conditions.
It’s no secret that short-term disability claims spike at the end of the construction season. This stems from a loophole in which the WCB is lacking policies and procedures to ensure proper processing and consistency with these claims. This results in employers spending huge amounts of money and time fighting fraudulent injury claims.
SHCA reached out to Don Morgan, the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, and requested a review and amendment of the current system, the process, and policies as it relates to employees’ compensation.
Under the current system, the WCB doesn’t allocate the proper amount of time to investigate employee claims. Instead, there is a presumption that an employee’s injury occurred because of his / her employment and not willful misconduct. The full burden of proof rests on an employer to prove otherwise.
This is just one example of frustration experienced by employers.
Another challenge is one that could impact an employer both presently and into the future. Through the provincial government’s adoption of Best Value Procurement, safety is something that is being rated during bid evaluation. Lost Time Incidents work against companies trying to bid for projects with the government of Saskatchewan. With the aforementioned spike in injury claims, and a lack of proper investigation of these claims, an employer’s reputation is at risk.
Yes, employers have an obligation to keep their people safe, but WCB will never achieve Mission Zero if they don’t correct the problems with their internal system and culture.
We need a governance/structural change to the Workers’ Compensation Board. This issue is not something unique to the SHCA members – it’s a cross-sector/cross-business issue.