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

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.

IWH Speaker Series

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

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.

Past presentations

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.

Safe employment integration of recent immigrants and refugees

  • Dr. Agnieszka Kosny, Scientist, Institute for Work & Health
  • Basak Yanar, Institute for Work & Health
  • Dina Al-Khooly, Practicum Student, Institute for Work & Health
Settlement and integration involve helping recent immigrants and refugees find work and become economically solvent. Many newcomers end up in survival jobs that expose them to hazards and are precarious and physically demanding. In this plenary, presenters Dr. Agnieszka Kosny, Dr. Basak Yanar and Dina Al-khooly summarize a recent study investigating how newcomers come to understand their rights and where there are gaps in resources and training. They offer suggestions on ways to help recent immigrants and refugees successfully prepare for and remain in safe, quality jobs.

The role of Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) ergonomists

  • Brian McInnes, Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL)
During Global Ergonomics Month, get the inside scoop on what Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) ergonomists do. Brian McInnes, provincial ergonomist at MOL, walks the audience through a day in the life of MOL ergonomists. He discusses the types of ergonomics analyses they perform, the different components of their ergonomics-related field visits, and the options they have for enforcement. A few case studies are shared.

Evaluation of a safe resident handling program in U.S. nursing homes

  • Alicia Kurowski, University of Massachusetts Lowell
How effective are safe resident handling programs? In a 10-year research project, a team at the Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) set out to measure the impact of one such program that was implemented across 200 nursing home centres. In this plenary, project manager Alicia Kurowski shares the team’s findings on outcomes such as ergonomic exposures, self-reported back pain, injury rates, return-to-work outcomes and return on investment.

Designing disability income support policy for mental illness

  • Dr. Ashley McAllister, Karolinska Institute
The features of mental illnesses pose challenges when designing disability income support (DIS) programs, yet there is limited evidence about the process. In this plenary, Dr. Ashley McAllister shares the results of a study in Australia and Ontario, which interviewed policy designers of DIS programs about the challenges related to mental illnesses. She outlines five main challenges and considers the ramifications of ignoring them—including distrust among policy designers of physicians' evidence to support DIS applications.