COVID-19

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. In short order, the world of work changed dramatically in Canada. Non-essential businesses were locked down. Some workers lost their jobs; others were sent home to work. Despite protections, workers in sectors ranging from health care to transportation to food production and retail faced risk of infection, illness and even death. IWH research examines the impact of the pandemic on workers and workplaces, as well as the lessons for work and health policy-makers to prepare for the next pandemic.

Featured

Two workers wearing masks look at a tablet together
At Work article

What can work-related COVID-19 cases tell us about how to prepare for the next pandemic?

A new study by IWH combined data sources to estimate work-related COVID-19 infection rates, using a method that took into account major shifts in where people worked.
Published: February 6, 2024
Two workers wearing masks look at a tablet together
At Work article

What can work-related COVID-19 cases tell us about how to prepare for the next pandemic?

To what extent did workplace exposures account for the transmission of the COVID-19 virus during the first two years of the pandemic? A new study by IWH combined data sources to estimate work-related infection rates, using a method that took into account major shifts in where people worked. It found the role of work exposure changed from wave to wave, in a dynamic pattern not in keeping with the number of cases in the general population.
Published: February 2024
Journal article
Journal article

Variation in occupational exposure risk for COVID-19 workers' compensation claims across pandemic waves in Ontario

Published: Occupational & Environmental Medicine, February 2024
Journal article
IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

Refining estimates of occupational exposures and risk of workplace COVID-19 transmission

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a light on the importance of having accurate data on workplace exposure to infectious diseases. Efforts to estimate infection rates of COVID-19 during the public health emergency were hampered by inadequate information on key factors, such as whether an infected worker had worked from home or interacted with the public. In this presentation, Dr. Peter Smith shares results from a study that examined the risk of work-related COVID-19 infections. He discusses methods used by the team to combine data sources to take into account changes in labour market participation—including working from home—during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published: January 2024
Journal article
Journal article
The Toronto Star logo
IWH in the media

They made doors, gum and jerry cans. Ontario’s ‘essential’ workers in manufacturing accounted for more workplace COVID deaths than any other sector — even health care

Using fatality reports filed to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the Toronto Star's Sara Mojtehedzadeh put together a comprehensive snapshot of COVID deaths in Ontario that are linked to workplace transmission. IWH president Dr. Peter Smith offers comments on the importance of occupational data in pandemic surveillance.
Published: Toronto Star, October 2022