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Open Access Research article

Worker compensation injuries among the Aboriginal population of British Columbia, Canada: incidence, annual trends, and ecological analysis of risk markers, 1987–2010

Andrew Jin1, M Anne George2*, Mariana Brussoni3 and Christopher E Lalonde4

Author Affiliations

1 2762 – 133 Street, Surrey, BC V4P 1X9, Canada

2 University of British Columbia and Child & Family Research Institute, University of Northern BC, Room 9-387, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC V2N 3Z9, Canada

3 University of British Columbia and Child & Family Research Institute, Child and Family Research Institute, BC Children’s Hospital, F511 - 4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6H 3 V4, Canada

4 Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:710  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-710

Published: 10 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Aboriginal people in British Columbia (BC) have higher injury incidence than the general population, but information is scarce regarding variability among injury categories, time periods, and geographic, demographic and socio-economic groups. Our project helps fill these gaps. This report focuses on workplace injuries.

Methods

We used BC’s universal health care insurance plan as a population registry, linked to worker compensation and vital statistics databases. We identified Aboriginal people by insurance premium group and birth and death record notations. We identified residents of specific Aboriginal communities by postal code. We calculated crude incidence rate and Standardized Relative Risk (SRR) of worker compensation injury, adjusted for age, gender and Health Service Delivery Area (HSDA), relative to the total population of BC. We assessed annual trend by regressing SRR as a linear function of year. We tested hypothesized associations of geographic, socio-economic, and employment-related characteristics of Aboriginal communities with community SRR of injury by multivariable linear regression.

Results

During the period 1987–2010, the crude rate of worker compensation injury in BC was 146.6 per 10,000 person-years (95% confidence interval: 146.4 to 146.9 per 10,000). The Aboriginal rate was 115.6 per 10,000 (95% CI: 114.4 to 116.8 per 10,000) and SRR was 0.88 (95% CI: 0.87 to 0.89). Among those living on reserves SRR was 0.79 (95% CI: 0.78 to 0.80). HSDA SRRs were highly variable, within both total and Aboriginal populations. Aboriginal males under 35 and females under 40 years of age had lower SRRs, but older Aboriginal females had higher SRRs. SRRs are declining, but more slowly for the Aboriginal population. The Aboriginal population was initially at lower risk than the total population, but parity was reached in 2006. These community characteristics independently predicted injury risk: crowded housing, proportion of population who identified as Aboriginal, and interactions between employment rate and income, occupational risk, proportion of university-educated persons, and year.

Conclusions

As employment rates rise, so has risk of workplace injury among the Aboriginal population. We need culturally sensitive prevention programs, targeting regions and industries where Aboriginal workers are concentrated and demographic groups that are at higher risk.

Keywords:
Occupational injuries (MeSH); Workers’ compensation (MeSH); Indians; North American (MeSH); Indigenous population (MeSH); “First Nations”; British Columbia (MeSH); Canada (MeSH); Epidemiology (MeSH); Population surveillance (MeSH); Socioeconomic factors (MeSH)