The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board says the number of workplace fatalities in Saskatchewan increased in 2018.

The report from the WCB, released Thursday, says there were 48 workplace fatalities in the province last year, a 78 per cent increase from 2017 and also above the 15-year average of 37 per year.

2017 had the lowest single-year amount of fatalities in that same 15-year period with 27.

“This is devastating for our province. Behind every statistic is a loved one who will never come home to their family. The impact of losing someone dear to us is devastating,” WCB CEO Peter Federko said in a release. “We’ve embarked on several research projects with the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan to understand more about our workplace fatalities.”

The top causes of on-the-job fatalities were occupational diseases and vehicle collisions.

The total rate of workplace injuries was also up by three per cent in 2018.

“Focusing on serious injuries and fatalities could get us closer to Mission: Zero,” said Federko. “We will continue to make this a top priority in 2019 as part of our serious injury and fatality initiative.”

Although there were more deaths and injuries in the workplace overall in 2018, the WCB says most employers in the province had zero injuries or fatalities.

 “While we are seeing a slight increase in 2018 injury rates, thanks to the health, safety and prevention efforts of people around the province, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan employers achieved Mission: Zero – zero injuries, zero fatalities and zero suffering,” Phil Germain, the Vice President of Prevention and Employer Services at the WCB said in a statement.

The Compensation Board says it’s working through its partnership with the provincial government, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, to continue training, awareness campaigns, and initiatives in an effort to lower the numbers.

“Keeping our workplaces safe is a shared responsibility,” WCB Chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky said. “We can only achieve Mission: Zero when everyone works together. We will keep working with employers, workers and partners until we achieve zero injuries and zero fatalities.”