When Dr. Agnieszka Kosny was studying for her master’s degree in Newfoundland, she first experienced how the labour market can have an impact on a person’s health. The cod fishery, which was once part of a robust east coast community, closed and left thousands unemployed.
There was an economic crisis and I observed first-hand how unemployment can affect a person’s health, says Kosny, a qualitative researcher. Those experiences piqued her interest in work and health research.
That interest has take Kosny a long way, both figuratively and literally. She has worked in both Toronto and Australia as a qualitative researcher specializing in a number of occupational health and safety and workers' compensation issues. These include the experiences of injured workers as they navigate the workers' compensation system, the role of various stakeholders in the return-to-work process, and injury reporting and claim filing among injured immigrant workers.
Her research on newcomers highlighted how language and literacy barriers can affect access to workers' compensation benefits and services in the wake of a work injury. This motivated Kosny, as a scientist at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto, to work with others in the system—including the province's labour ministry and workers' compensation board, as well as a large settlement services organization and an injured workers' group servicing newcomers—to develop a toolkit to help teach newcomers to Ontario about their rights and responsibilities under Ontario's OHS and workers' compensation systems.
At about the same time, Kosny was also commissioned to conduct a resource scan by the Public Health Agency of Canada to evaluate safety resources aimed at new immigrants. This work resulted in several workers’ compensation bodies changing their services so they were more accessible to immigrant workers.
Kosny moved to Monash University in Australia in 2012 to complete a two-year term as a research fellow. While there, she carried out a similar analysis of safety and workers’ compensation resources available to new immigrants in Australia. Upon her return to Canada, she took up her position again as a scientist at the Institute.
Kosny, who earned her PhD in public health at the University of Toronto, is a qualitative researcher by training and is highly regarded for her proficiency in both qualitative research methods (interviews, focus groups, participant observations) and analysis. Kosny is also the Institute's chief privacy officer.
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Kilgour E, Kosny A, Collie A, McKenzie D. Healing or harming? Healthcare providers' interactions with injured workers and insurers in workers' compensation systems. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2015; 25(1):220-239; doi 10.1007/s10926-014-9521-x [Epub 2014 May 29]
Kilgour E, Kosny A, Collie A, McKenzie D. Interactions between injured workers and insurers in workers’ compensation systems: A systematic review of qualitative research literature. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2015; 25(1):160-181; doi: 10.1007/s10926-014-9513-x [Epub 2014 May 16].
Kosny A, Lifshen M, Smith P, Saunder R, Rhooms R. Prevention is the Best Medicine: Development of a work and health toolkit for new immigrants using settlement services in Ontario. Perspectives interdisciplinaires sur le travail et la santé, 2014; 16(2):1-14.
Kosny, A, MacEachen, E, Lifshen, M, Smith, P. “Another person in the room”: Using interpreters during interviews with injured immigrant workers in Canada. Qualitative Health Research, 2014; 24(6):837-845.
Kosny A, Lifshen M, Pugliese D, Majesky G, Kramer D, Steenstra I, Soklardidis S, Carrasco C. Buddies in bad times? The role of co-workers after a work-related injury. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2013; 23(3):438-49; doi 10.1007/s10926-012-9411-z.
Kosny A, Lifshen M. A national scan of employment standards, occupational health and safety and workers' compensation resources for new immigrants to Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2012; 103(1):53-58.
Kosny A, MachEachen E, Lifshen M, Smith P, Jafri GJ, Neilson C, Pugliese D. Shields J. Delicate dances: Immigrant workers' experiences of injury reportin and claim filing. Ethnicity and Health, 2012; 17(3):267-290.