IWH Speaker Series

The IWH Speaker Series is your opportunity to learn about the latest findings from work and health researchers from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and other Canadian and international academic institutions around the world. Whether you attend in person at the Institute's downtown Toronto office or via live stream, these presentations (which typically take place on Tuesdays from 11.00 a.m. to noon EST) allow you to hear about new research directly form the scientist(s) involved, and give you a chance to ask questions about the meaning and interpretation of the findings. For those unable to attend, most presentations in the IWH Speaker Series are audio-recorded and made available as slidecasts, typically within two weeks of the original presentation.

Upcoming presentations

IWH Speaker Series

Challenges in designing organizational and system-level interventions to prevent work disability

Dr. William Shaw, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Interventions to prevent work disability can vary widely. They can include: changes in laws and regulations; provider training and education; outreach and support to workers and supervisors; modified employer policies and practices; and changes in insurance and medical reimbursement policies. Given the very wide band of possible strategies in this area, researchers and policy makers face some serious design challenges when developing feasible and effective interventions. In this presentation, Dr. Bill Shaw discusses three intervention design issues: reach, implementation, and organizational structure. He draws on published and ongoing studies to discuss feasibility constraints, design assumptions and evaluation methods.

IWH Speaker Series

Introducing the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario

Dr. Richard Wells, The Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD)

The Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) kicks off Global Ergonomics Month with the launch of the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario. This initiative builds on a previous guideline and toolboxes, developed in 2005-2006 by the Ontario health and safety system under the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Council of Ontario (OSHCO). In this presentation, CRE-MSD's Dr. Richard Wells provides an overview of the updated content and the host of tools and resources to meet the needs of workplaces of all types and sizes. He also outlines the new guideline's three interlinked sources: Quick Start (an introductory guideline for micro and very small businesses), Basic and Comprehensive.

IWH Speaker Series

An impact analysis of two silica dust exposure reduction strategies

Dr. Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health

Crystalline silica dust exposure is common in the construction sector. Inhalation of silica dust is known to cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis. In this presentation, Dr. Emile Tompa examines the implementation of two approaches to reducing exposure: use of personal protective equipment (i.e. respirators) by all exposed individuals and use of engineering controls (e.g. wet method) wherever and whenever feasible. He shares findings from an impact analysis based on data spanning 30 years.

Past presentations

Prevention of work injuries using a systematic KTE approach: Experiences from a research project in Denmark

Dr. Johnny Dyreborg, National Research Centre for the Working Environment

In a two-part presentation, Dr. Johnny Dyreborg summarizes findings from a systematic review on the effectiveness of safety interventions and describe an interactive approach of knowledge exchange. In the first part of the presentation, he shares preliminary results from a recent review that evaluated a range of different types of safety interventions directed at reducing workplace injuries. In the second part, he discusses the shortcomings of review methodology that decontextualizes research findings. He also outlines an interactive knowledge exchange approach for implementing evidence-based ‘best practice’ injury prevention at the workplace, one that builds on IWH's Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (KTE) methods.

Challenges in accommodating mental and physical health conditions: What workplace parties are saying

Dr. Monique Gignac, Institute for Work & Health

Employers are increasingly being asked to accommodate workers with episodic physical and mental health conditions such as depression, arthritis, colitis and others. Symptoms of these conditions can be intermittent, unpredictable and often invisible to others. As such, employers can find it challenging to provide support and accommodation for these conditions, particularly in light of privacy legislation aimed at protecting workers from needing to disclose disease diagnoses. In this presentation, Dr. Monique Gignac shares findings from a study examining organizational perspectives on implementing work disability prevention and management practices, as well as key issues in supporting workers with chronic, episodic conditions.

The effects of gradual return to work on sustained return to work

Dr. Esther Maas, Partnership for Work, Health, and Safety, University of British Columbia

Gradual return to work (GRTW) provides workers recovering from an injury with the opportunity to limit or modify work tasks and gradually build up work hours and work load with the goal of returning to full hours and duties. In this presentation, Dr. Esther Maas presents her research, which used detailed administrative workers’ compensation calendar data on return-to-work (RTW) in British Columbia to explore the effect of GRTW on sustained RTW. She also discusses opportunities for using population-based data to analyse the costs and effects of GRTW to improve RTW outcomes.

Superior Mental Wellness @ Work: Results of a comprehensive employee mental health project in northwestern Ontario

Dr. Vicki Kristman, Lakehead University ; Lynda Fraser, Thunder Bay District Health Unit ; Susan Armstrong, Thunder Bay District Health Unit

The Superior Mental Wellness @ Work project is a two-year multi-component initiative aimed at promoting workplace environments that reduce psychological hazards and maintain positive mental health for employees in Thunder Bay and District. Research and evaluation was integrated throughout the project. In this presentation, members of the project team provide an overview of the project and outline results of the overall program evaluation. They also share the outcomes of the training sessions included in the project to support the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Also discussed are focus groups results that reveal the facilitators, barriers and needs of worksite leaders to enhance employee mental wellness.

Reporting and consequences of workplace violence in six Ontario hospitals

Dr. Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health

We currently do not know what proportion of workplace violence incidents in Ontario are captured by each hospital’s reporting system. We also lack information on reasons for not reporting workplace violence incidents. Dr. Peter Smith of the Institute for Work & Health provides findings from a survey in late 2017 of over 1,000 workers in six Ontario hospitals on the incidence, reporting and consequences of workplace violence. He also discusses the implications of these findings on the interpretation of Ontario's new mandatory indicator of workplace violence.

Who claims for injury: comparing self-reported injury data and accident compensation claims

Michelle Poland, University of Otago, New Zealand

How well does compensation claims data capture actual injury trends? Research in several different jurisdictions has suggested that workers' compensation claims data represents only a fraction of actual injuries at work. A recent study examined whether a similar pattern of under-reporting exists in New Zealand, where the universal, no-fault accident compensation environment should theoretically remove common barriers to filing claims. In this IWH Speaker Series presentation, lead researcher Michelle Poland shares results of her findings and their broader implications.

Towards a better understanding of differences in the risk of workplace violence for men and women in Canada

Dr. Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health

Workplace violence is getting increasing attention, especially within certain industries such as health care and education. This presentation will discuss results from two recently completed studies examining differences in the risk of workplace violence for men and women.

Flame retardants in e-waste recycling: an emerging occupational hazard

Dr. Victoria Arrandale, Occupational Cancer Research Centre

With the growth of electronic waste recycling in Ontario and other parts of Canada, concerns about several occupational hazards are coming to the fore. In this presentation, Dr. Victoria Arrandale summarizes results from the first study of flame retardant chemicals in the Canadian e-waste industry, as well as the effects of other hazards in the e-waste environment.

Systematic review of workplace interventions to manage depression

Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health ; Dr. Kim Cullen, Institute for Work & Health ; Dr. Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health

By the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. What effective intervention approaches for managing depression can workplaces offer to help employees either stay at work while experiencing symptoms, or return to work after a depression-related absence? In this presentation, an Institute for Work & Health team share findings from a recent systematic review of the scientific literature on this question.

The burden of occupational cancer

Dr. Paul Demers, Occupational Cancer Research Centre; Cancer Care Ontario

In October 2017, the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) and Cancer Care Ontario released a report on the impact of workplace carcinogens in Ontario. The report, Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario: Major Workplace Carcinogens and Prevention of Exposure, focused on carcinogens that are well-established causes of cancer—​for example, solar ultraviolet radiation, asbestos, diesel engine exhaust and crystalline silica—as well as commonly known or suspected carcinogens found in Ontario workplaces. In this presentation, the first in the newly named IWH Speaker Series, Dr. Paul Demers shares the report's key findings. He also discusses policy recommendations aimed at the government, Ontario’s occupational health and safety system, employers and non-governmental organizations.