Canada Post says long-term injury rates improving, despite concerns from mail carriers

05 Aug 2017, 16:30 ... -1.4236030

Canada Post is defending its safety record in the wake of a CBC News story about postal workers who say the changing nature of their jobs — including expanded routes and heavier loads — is driving injury rates up.

Federal government statistics show a jump in the disabling injury rate among postal workers between 2013 and 2015, from fewer than 4 out of every 100 full-time postal contractors up to 7.21 out of every 100 workers.

However Canada Post, which did not initially respond to CBC's interview requests, now says that spike is due to a change in the way it reports injury rates.

Changes to injury reporting

Prior to 2014, Canada Post did not include workers who experienced disabling injuries but continued to work on modified duties in that category.

In 2014, those numbers were added, accounting for the spike in disabling injury rates, according to Canada Post.

"Safety is at the forefront of everything we do at Canada Post," said spokesperson Jon Hamilton.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which tracks these statistics, confirmed Canada Post adjusted how it reports disabling and minor injuries to align with federal injury definitions for the 2013-2014 reporting year.

The total injury incidence rate of postal contractors — including minor, disabling and fatal injuries — decreased by 26 per cent between 2013 and 2014, due to 2,000 fewer injuries, according to ESDC.

Canada Post's own report shows that, after trending downwards for several years, the number of lost-time injuries increased slightly from 1,537 in 2015 to 1,658 in 2016. Most of those injuries were caused by slips, trips and falls.

"Things are trending in the right direction," Hamilton said. "The number of lost-time injuries are declining and we'll continue to focus on that."

Postal worker injuries still above national average

Despite all this, the disabling injury incidence rate among postal contractors remains the highest of all federal sectors, including long-shoring, mining and air, water and interprovincial road transport.

At 7.21 per 100 workers, it's well above the national average of 1.85.

"Obviously we want to continue to reduce the number of injuries [and] ensure that our workplaces are safe," Hamilton said.

"Comparing us to some other industries where the work is completely different, that's an apples and oranges comparison. Obviously we want to continue to reduce the number of injuries. And the numbers bear that out."

Workers' concerns

When it comes to concerns from some Calgary mail carriers — who say more parcels, heavier loads and bigger routes are taking a physical toll — Hamilton said changes to routes are made through negotiations with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

He said Canada Post works with CUPW to monitor issues in the field, including mail volume.

"And because that's been declining, especially with the number of letters over the years, the routes are going to get a bit longer. But there's less to deliver. And there's vehicles added to it," he said.

"If there are issues, there is a process to review that and to see if changes are necessary."

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