Since handling its first claim in January 1915, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), has undergone significant change. Its origins are rooted in the “historic compromise” that was struck over 100 years ago, in which workers gave up the right to sue their employers for guaranteed protection from loss of income, regardless of fault. In order to continue protecting both workers and employers alike, the WSIB has continuously transformed as economic and industrial conditions evolved.

The WSIB’s vision is to make Ontario the healthiest and safest jurisdiction in which to work, and to set the standard for outcomes in return-to-work and recovery. They are also focused on meeting the changing demands of their customers, including greater access and convenience. In order to achieve these goals, they are putting data at the core of their strategy. As they build toward providing more digital experiences and streamlined processes, the organization is increasingly recognizing that data must come first.

Today, the WSIB covers over five million people in more than 300k workplaces across Ontario. The volume and velocity of the data available to them is increasing rapidly. WSIB handles over 200k claims per year, and each claim provides data that can be leveraged to provide actionable insights. Not just traditional structured data, but increasingly unstructured data such as call content, letters and memo’s from workers and their reps and medical reports.

To ensure that the growing amount of data is governed and managed as a strategic asset, Christina Hoy, the Vice President of Corporate Business and Information Analytics for the WSIB, points to the recently launched Enterprise Data Strategy: “It places a strong emphasis on embedding data and analytics as part of the WSIB’s culture – by helping employees see themselves as data practitioners and enhancing data capabilities across the organization.” The strategy also includes blueprints to create the essential infrastructure and leverage appropriate technologies. With the key elements of people and technology underway, the strategy also guides the organization in establishing robust governance and data management practices, by implementing policies and standards for everything from meta-data management to knowledge and records management.

At the same time that much work is happening to construct a strong foundation, Hoy also points to the goal they’ve set to “create an environment of ‘Analytics Everywhere’, by providing valuable insights through new information products and tools.” Already they are seeing successes.

In 2017, the WSIB launched the Health and Safety Index (HSI) to measure the overall health and safety of Ontario’s workplaces. It is the first index of its kind in North America, producing a single measure to show how workplaces overall are performing year over year by condensing data from five categories: prevention, worker empowerment, workplace culture, enforcement and injuries.

Another innovative product that is having a province-wide impact is Compass, an online tool for the public to find and compare health and safety statistics for businesses across the province. In its first iteration, Ontarians were able to use an online portal to see the number and types of injuries in a workplace; get a sense of how serious those injuries were by looking at how many people were off work past the day of an accident and how many people are still receiving benefits a year after an accident; and check out health and safety statistics for their workplace or a potential employer. Further evolutions of this tool now allow individual employers to log into a secure environment to provide more refined and customized data for their business.

By harnessing the power of data, and building the right foundation to maximize its potential, the WSIB is well positioned to expand the use of analytics beyond its current reports and descriptive products, toward predictive and prescriptive tools that will deepen customer insights, support program and product development and strengthen compliance. Leveraging data will ultimately enable the WSIB to truly transform into a 21st century organization and realize the benefits that digitization and artificial intelligence can provide to an insurance organization