Determinants of health and safety in unionized and non-unionized firms in Ontario’s construction sector

Reasons for the study

The construction sector in Ontario and beyond experiences high rates of work injury, death and disability, so understanding the factors that improve health and safety outcomes in the sector are important. Earlier research from the Institute for Work & Health found that union-certified firms in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction sector have 20 per cent fewer lost-time, musculoskeletal and critical injury workers’ compensation claims than non-unionized firms. This project aims to identify the workplace policies and practices associated with lower rates of work-related injury and disease among Ontario construction workers, and how these potentially differ in unionized and non-unionized workplaces.

Objectives of the study

  • To understand what drives differences in safety outcomes between union and non-union firms in the construction sector

Anticipated results/impact

The results of this research will be relevant to the construction sector, unions, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and other policy-makers and prevention partners.

Related interviews and articles

IWH study in construction sector suggests unionized firms are safer. At Work: Institute for Work & Health; No. 82, Fall 2015.
Hand in hand. OHS Canada: Annex Newcom (Toronto, ON). November 1, 2015. Available from:

Project status


Research team

Ben Amick, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Desiree Latour-Villamil, Institute for Work & Health
Ron Saunders, Institute for Work & Health
Paul Demers, Cancer Care Ontario
Christopher McLeod, University of British Columbia

Participating organizations

Ontario Construction Secretariat
Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Funded by

Ontario Ministry of Labour's Research Opportunities Program