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

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.

IWH Speaker Series

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.

IWH Speaker Series

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.

Past presentations

Reporting and consequences of workplace violence in six Ontario hospitals

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

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

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.

Availability of caregiver-friendly workplace policies: an international scoping review

  • Dr. Allison Williams, McMaster University
Where are caregiver-friendly workplaces commonly found? What sectors are they in and what characteristics do their policies share? In this plenary, Dr. Allison Williams shares findings from her scoping review on the availability of workplace policies to support employees who have additional off-work responsibilities of caring for loved ones.

Addressing essential skills gaps in an OHS training program: a pilot study

Can an occupational health and safety (OHS) training program be improved by modifying it to address gaps in essential skills? In a recent study, a research team led by Dr. Ron Saunders modified a hoisting and rigging training program offered by the LIUNA Local 506 training centre. The changes were made to address trainees’ skills gaps in numeracy and document use that were related to the job. In this plenary, the team share findings regarding the effect of modifying the curriculum on trainee learning and discuss suggestions for improving training efforts within the construction sector.

Hand-arm vibration syndrome: a common but under-recognized problem

  • Dr. Ron House, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a common occupational disease, which in advanced cases may be associated with significant upper extremity disability and reduced quality of life. However, HAVS is under-recognized and under-reported in Ontario and other Canadian provinces. Moreover, there is currently no legislation in Ontario for hand-arm vibration exposure. In this plenary, Dr. Ron House shares his HAVS research at St. Michael's Hospital and the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD). He describes HAVS and its components, outlines its clinical assessment and management, and reviews the legislation for hand-arm vibration exposure and compensation experience for HAVS in Canada. He also highlights recent efforts to raise awareness of HAVS and increase focus on preventing this occupational exposure.

Do workplace facilities and health promotion programs help workers be physically active?

Despite the known health benefits of regular physical activity, over half of adults fail to meet physical activity recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. Recognizing that working-aged adults typically spend a third of their day at work, many workplaces offer wellness programs and facilities that support physical activity near or at work. In this plenary, Dr. Avi Biswas shares the results of a study that drew from a national survey of Canadians to examine the relationship between access to such facilities and wellness programs and the leisure time physical activity of workers.