Issue Briefing

An Issue Briefing summarizes, in plain language, research findings from the Institute for Work & Health and elsewhere on topics that are of particular interest to policy-makers. Each issue gives readers a quick overview of key findings from the research and, where appropriate, explores their policy implications. While these briefings do not attempt to be systematic or comprehensive in their review of the relevant literature, they do pay attention to the quality of the research.
Wooden block letters spelling out R O I, with colourful arrows pointing to them

Estimating the financial return on employers’ investments in the prevention of work injuries in Ontario

Following a 2017 study to estimate occupational health and safety (OHS) expenditures by employers with 20 or more employees in Ontario, Canada, an Institute for Work & Health (IWH) team has set out to estimate the financial return on those OHS expenditures. This Issue Briefing shares findings from that follow-up study.
Workplace inspectors inspecting a workplace during COVID, as indicated by the masks they are wearing

Response to COVID-19: Gathering experiences of OHS authorities in developed countries

In early 2021, a group of researchers led by IWH President Dr. Cameron Mustard asked authorities responsible for occupational health and safety (OHS) in developed countries how they had, to date, addressed the COVID-19 challenge. This Issue Briefing shares what the researchers learned.
Silhouettes of cranberries harvest workers in the light of a sunrise

Nature and extent of claim suppression in B.C.’s workers’ compensation system

The Institute for Work & Health collaborated with Prism Economics and Analysis to conduct a study for WorkSafeBC on claim suppression in British Columbia. This Issue Briefing summarizes the findings of this study and compares them with the findings of previous Institute studies on claim suppression in Manitoba and Ontario, as well as with the findings of other research in Canada.
Masked restaurant worker prepares take-out food orders

Incidence of COVID-19 transmission in Ontario workplaces

As the incidence of diagnosed cases escalates in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, it is important to understand the degree to which employment in the essential service sectors represents an increased risk of infection. This Issue Briefing examines what the available data says about the role of workplaces in COVID-19 transmission in Ontario, the relative contribution of workplace outbreaks to case numbers, and current information gaps at the population level.
A man looks at a blackboard with chalk written money symbols and question marks

What do employers spend to protect the health and safety of workers?

While the financial costs of work-related injury and illness are well known, limited information is available on what employers spend to control or eliminate the causes of work-related injury and illness. This Issue Briefing describes the results of a 2017 study to estimate occupational health and safety expenditures among employers from 17 economic sectors in Ontario, Canada.
A view from below of truck driver behind steering wheel

Vulnerable workers and risk of work injury

This Issue Briefing provides highlights of IWH's body of evidence on "vulnerable" workers, tracking how our research has evolved from vulnerability being associated with those who are new to a job to those who are exposed to hazards with inadequate awareness, protective policies and/or empowerment.
Close-up of fingers holding Canadian bills

Measuring the adequacy of workers’ compensation benefits in Ontario: An update

In 2011, an IWH Issue Briefing summed up research on the adequacy of earnings replacement benefits for injured workers with permanent impairments in Ontario and B.C. This update looks at more recent cohorts, after major changes in Ontario’s workers’ compensation legislation.
A hospital emergency sign

Divergent trends in work-related and non-work-related injury in Ontario

An IWH study found strongly diverging trends in the annual incidence of occupational injury and non-occupational injury among working-age adults in Ontario from 2004 to 2011. This Issue Briefing highlights opportunities to improve the monitoring of injury across Canada.
Close-up of hands rifling through hanging file folders

Suppression of workplace injury and illness claims: summary of evidence in Canada

This Issue Briefing highlights findings from two reports by Prism Economics and Analysis—one for Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the other for the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba—on the incidence and risk of claim suppression.
A helmeted worker sits on bench with laptop

Developing leading indicators of work injury and illness

Leading indicators have the potential to help identify factors affecting the risk of injury, allowing workplaces to address these factors before injuries occur. This Issue Briefing looks at efforts to date to identify OHS leading indicators and the challenges involved.
Inspector goes over checklist at construction site

Effectiveness of targeted OHS labour inspections

This Issue Briefing takes a close look at the design and outcomes of three North American studies and how they inform our understanding of the effectiveness of targeted labour inspections on occupational health and safety (OHS) outcomes.
Big box store with closing sale sign

The Canadian recession and the compensation of work-related injury and illness

What happened to workers' compensation claim rates in Canada during the 2008-2009 recession? This Issue Briefing looks at the research and confirms that, relative to the long-term trend of declining claim rates in North America, the frequency of workers' compensation claims per hours worked tends to go down during recessions.
A crowd at a crosswalk, viewed from the bottom

Trends in no-lost-time claims in Ontario

The proportion of work-related injuries registered as no-lost-time claims (NLTCs) versus lost-time claims (LTCs) increased in Ontario from 1991 to 2006. Based on research from IWH, this Issue Briefing takes a close look at the characteristics of NLTCs in Ontario and the factors that may help explain their increasing share of workers' compensation claims in the province.
Twenty dollar bills are taken out of wallet

The adequacy of workers’ compensation benefits

Workers who suffer permanent impairments from a work injury often rely on workers' compensation benefits to replace lost earnings. But how well are benefit programs fulfilling this role? This Issue Briefing addresses that question.
Close-up of man in wheelchair approaching desk

A patchwork quilt: Income security for Canadians with disabilities

This Issue Briefing draws attention to the policy challenge of coordinating and aligning both the goals and the administration of at least seven different disability income security programs in Canada.
Office worker and cleaner during evening shift

Shift work and health

Shift work — employment with anything other than a regular daytime work schedule — makes up a large part of work in the Canadian economy. For at least 50 years, researchers have been exploring the question of whether working shifts poses a health hazard. This briefing summarizes the findings of a selection of this research, including several review articles.
Los Angeles skyline cast in the orange glow of a sunset

Workers' compensation in California and Canada

This Issue Briefing provides a case study that compares the costs of the workers’ compensation scheme in the state of California with the cost of provincial workers’ compensation schemes in Canada. In California's system, compensation benefits are mainly provided through private insurers, while in Canada they are provided mostly through a single public agency in each province.
Young worker in hearing protection

Declining trends in young worker injury rates, 2000 to 2007

Although young males have typically had higher work-related injury rates than older ones, this trend has changed in some parts of Canada, where young men now have rates similar to those of older men. This Issue Briefing presents a detailed breakdown of workplace injury rates for men and women in three provinces over time, and suggests potential reasons for the trends.
A view from the back of a woman reading a book

Unemployment and mental health

Researchers have been looking at how unemployment affects mental health since the Great Depression of the 1930s, if not earlier. This body of research has shown that becoming unemployed has a negative impact on mental health. Also, people with mental health problems are more likely than others to become unemployed. This Issue Briefing summarizes the key research behind these findings and explores the implications for policy-makers and health and safety service providers.
A forklift operator gets job training

“Newness” and the risk of occupational injury

Research is emerging that “newness” is associated with a higher risk of work injury. Whether it’s young workers, workers of all ages new to their jobs, recent immigrants or employees in newly established firms, the evidence indicates that these workers face higher injury rates and/or more hazardous jobs. This Issue Briefing summarizes the key research behind these findings and explores the implications for policy-makers and health and safety service providers.