Alf Nachemson Memorial Lecture

The annual Alf Nachemson Lecture was established in 2002 by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) to honour the significant contributions of Dr. Alf Nachemson to the use of research evidence in clinical decision-making. Dr. Nachemson was a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon and researcher from Sweden, and a founding member of the Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee. When he passed away in 2006, the lecture was renamed the Alf Nachemson Memorial Lecture. The lectureship is awarded to a prominent national or international individual who has made a significant and unique contribution to: causes or management of work-related musculoskeletal pain; evidence-based practice in the prevention of work-related injury, illness or disability; emerging challenges in the interface between work and health; or the role of evidence in policy-making.

Upcoming presentations

28 Nov 2018

Alf Nachemson Memorial Lecture

Preventing occupational disease: Moving the agenda forward

Dr. Paul Demers, Director, Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Toronto, Ont.

Exposures arising from work in high-income countries are understood to be responsible for 15 to 20 per cent of all lung cancers, 15 per cent of asthma cases, and varying proportions of many other diseases. There is a now a growing recognition that the burden will persist if we don’t pay increased regulatory and voluntary attention to occupational disease prevention. In the 2018 Nachemson lecture, Dr. Paul Demers will review the distinct research challenges in establishing a causal relationship between exposure to substances in occupational settings and the onset of disease. He will describe the process by which important international agencies establish a scientific consensus on disease causation arising from occupational exposures and the challenges of estimating the burden of occupational disease. He will also highlight past successes in occupational disease prevention in Canada and outline his perspective on opportunities to move the occupational disease prevention agenda in Canada in the decade ahead.

Past presentations

1 Nov 2017

High-hazard industries: Addressing safety culture, climate and leadership to improve outcomes

Dr. Linda M. Goldenhar, Director of Research and Evaluation, CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, Maryland

In this lecture Dr. Goldenhar talks about the research that led her team to develop, first, a workbook to help strengthen jobsite safety climate by improving performance in eight areas identified as leading indicators of health and safety outcomes and, more recently an online tool that assesses a workplace’s safety climate maturity. Dr. Goldenhar also shares preliminary evaluation findings of a program that she and her team developed to improve jobsite supervisory leadership—one of the eight safety climate leading indicators identified as critical by construction stakeholders.

14 Oct 2016

A celebration of Wolfgang Zimmermann and the work of NIDMAR

Joachim Breuer, Director General of German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) and Vice-President of Europe Rehabilitation International ; Andrew King, Former National Leader for Health, Safety and Environment at the United Steelworkers Union in Canada ; The Honourable Wayne G. Wouters, Chancellor of PCU-WHS and former Clerk of the Privy Council

The Institute for Work & Health’s 2016 Nachemson lecture celebrates the important work of Wolfgang Zimmermann and the organization he leads. Three people who have worked closely with Zimmermann will talk about his important contribution both in Canada and beyond to improving the circumstances of people with disabilities in the working world.

29 Oct 2015

Using research evidence to help prevent work disability in Ontario

Judy Geary, Former Executive, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

In 2015, WSIB marked 100 years of service to employers and workers in Ontario. Over the past decade, the Board embarked on significant reforms to strengthen case management services provided to employers and injured workers and to improve vocational rehabilitation services for workers disabled by a work-related injury or illness. These reforms have contributed to the prevention of more than two million lost work days annually in the Ontario economy, according to WSIB. As a member of the WSIB executive team, Judy Geary played a leading role in the design and implementation of these complex reforms. In leading these reforms, Geary drew guidance from the international research on effective practices in work disability prevention. In her lecture, Geary will outline some of the lessons learned in integrating research evidence in the reform of valued public services.

19 Nov 2014

Assessing the impact of NIOSH research on worker health protection

Dr. Paul Schulte, Director, Education and Information Division, U.S National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH)

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), established in 1970, is the United States federal agency that conducts work injury and illness prevention research aimed at protecting the country’s 155 million workers. As part of its research mandate, NIOSH is committed to moving research into practice through concrete and practical solutions, recommendations and interventions. From his perspective as a long-time leader of moving research into practice at NIOSH, Schulte will offer his views on the many efforts of NIOSH to assess its impact and the lessons learned about how best to ensure that research does, indeed, have an effect on worker health protection.

21 Nov 2013

Research informing policy: How to make an impact

Dr. Mieke Koehoorn, Professor, School of Population & Public Health, University of British Columbia

British Columbia and Ontario have been national leaders in funding research on worker health protection and in using research evidence to strengthen public policy. From her perspective as the Director of the Partnership for Work, Health & Safety at the University of British Columbia, Dr Koehoorn will share examples of the contribution of research to informing regulatory and compensation policy in worker health protection in British Columbia. The research partnership between WorkSafeBC (BC’s Workers’ Compensation Board) and the University of British Columbia focuses on current and emerging issues in work-related health in British Columbia. The partnership has a focus on advancing the use of routinely collected administrative data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public programs. Dr Koehoorn will draw from this unique experience in British Columbia to share some lessons learned about high impact collaborations between research and policy.

15 Nov 2012

Thirty years after OHSA: Keeping pace with the changing world of work

Dr. Michael Silverstein, Professor, University of Washington, School of Public Health

Today’s labour force is characterized by aging workers, declining unionization, a growing number of newcomers, a decline in long-term employment relationships and an increase in independent contracting and temporary employment. As a long-time public administrator of occupational health and safety programs, Dr. Michael Silverstein will offer his views on how we might modernize our regulatory standards and practices to keep pace with the changing world of work. He will also address the challenge of using research to inform and implement occupational health and safety policies and programs.

27 Oct 2011

Research informing public policy: Workers’ compensation in California

Dr. Robert T. Reville, Senior economist, RAND

In this lecture Dr. Robert Reville, the leader of the permanent disability study and other studies on the performance of the California workers’ compensation system over this past decade, shows how research informed public policy. He also gives examples in the areas of improving return-to-work outcomes for disabled workers, the adequacy of benefits for workers experiencing permanent impairment and challenges in ensuring fairness in the adjudication of workers’ compensation benefits.

18 Nov 2010

Improving quality and performance in health services: Reflections from Cancer Care Ontario

Dr. Terrence Sullivan, CEO, Cancer Care Ontario

Initiatives to improve the quality of care in Ontario’s publicly funded health-care system are a prominent focus of current policy, with the introduction of the Excellent Care for All legislation. Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) commissions the full range of ambulatory cancer treatments along with surgical wait time reduction efforts. Within Ontario, CCO has been a leader in quality improvement initiatives in the past 10 years, using a number of strategies to continually improve the performance of cancer services. These include regularly reviewing the performance of each regional cancer centre and working with regional vice presidents and clinical leaders to address problems. These strategies also include the provincial-regional alignment of leadership objectives, provision of funding contingent upon results, and the reporting of results to cancer care providers and the public. From his perspective as the leader of a health-care commissioning agency with a core commitment to quality improvement, Dr. Sullivan will speak on lessons learned and possible considerations for the commissioning of health services more broadly.

25 Nov 2009

No small matter: Unpacking the problem of health and safety in small workplaces

Dr. Joan Eakin, Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Most workers in Canada and internationally are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises. Ensuring health and safety in such workplaces presents enduring and unresolved challenges to occupational health systems. Dr. Eakin’s research has examined how working conditions and health-related practices in small workplaces are shaped by their distinct features and social relations, and by the regulatory and service environment that governs them. Drawing on a series of her studies, Dr. Eakin will “unpack” some prevailing assumptions and approaches to prevention, return to work and service provision to this sector, and suggest how they might be reframed. She will also describe how the injured worker community and Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board have used this body of research.

22 Oct 2008

Quality improvement in health-care services for injured workers

Dr. Thomas Wickizer, Professor of Health Services, University of Washington

For the 2008 Nachemson Memorial Lecture, Dr. Thomas Wickizer will discuss how Washington State has improved the quality of health care in its workers’ compensation system. He will describe the evolution of these efforts since 1995, leading to a major system intervention that provided financial incentives to physicians and introduced structural changes in the workers’ compensation health-care delivery system. An evaluation of this intervention indicates these changes are associated with reductions in disability for injured workers, and decreased costs. Dr. Wickizer will also speak about the importance of collaboration among researchers, the state’s Department of Labor and Industry, and business and labour stakeholder groups in order for research to influence policy.