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Do workers exercise more when their employers offer health promotion programs?

Many workplaces offer wellness programs and facilities that support physical activity near or at work. But do these offerings actually get workers to exercise more? IWH’s Mustard Post-doctoral Fellow Dr. Avi Biswas recently conducted a study on the link between access to such programs/facilities and the leisure time physical activity of employees. The results are encouraging. He shared his findings at a recent IWH presentation, now available as a slidecast.

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IWH in the media: Marijuana in the workplace. What is unsafe?

"What is striking is how little high-quality evidence there is on the impacts of marijuana in the workplace and how inconsistent the existing data is. We urgently need high-quality observational research studies to be able to better understand the effects of marijuana on work. We also need to develop an accurate measure of impairment for use in Canadian workplaces."—Dr. Andrea Furlan and Dr. Nancy Carnide, in The Conversation, January 22, 2018

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CRE-MSD webinars: evidence on safe client handling, and apps to support good posture

If you’re interested in preventing injuries among health-care workers, don’t miss two webinars being offered by the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) this month. On January 19, IWH Scientist Dr. Dwayne Van Eerd provides an overview of the latest evidence on awkward postures when handling clients or patients in a health-care setting. Then, on January 31, two CRE-MSD researchers review SafeBack and PostureCoach, two prototype smartphone apps designed to help health-care workers adopt safer postures. Both webinars require advanced registration.

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People with disabilities face greater OHS vulnerability, according to IWH study

People with disabilities have a tough time getting hired, research elsewhere has shown. Now, a new IWH study suggests that, when they do find jobs, they may be more vulnerable to workplace health and safety risks than their peers without disabilities. The study used an occupational health and safety (OHS) vulnerability framework developed at IWH. It found low OHS empowerment and inadequate OHS practices and policies were more prevalent among study participants with disabilities than those without.

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Young people with arthritis find disclosing their condition a challenge: IWH study

If you were 22, trying to get a career started, and you had arthritis, would you tell your boss or co-workers about it? Institute for Work & Health (IWH) Associate Scientist Dr. Arif Jetha recently looked into the experiences of young people with chronic conditions. And he heard from participants who faced difficult choices around whether or not to disclose their health conditions. His study, published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation, explored the issues.

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How IWH researchers addressed essential skills gaps in an OHS training program

Can an OHS training program be improved by modifying it to address gaps in essential skills? In a new study, a research team at IWH pilot-tested a modified version of a hoisting and rigging training program offered by the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 506. The changes were made to address trainees’ skills gaps in numeracy and document use that were related to the job. Last November, the team presented its findings, and that presentation is now available as a slidecast. Good news: it turns out the trainees in the program modified to address essential skills did better.

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IWH Speaker Series: new year, new name

Happy new year! With the start of 2018, here's a reminder that the long-running IWH plenary series has been renamed the IWH Speaker Series: New and Emerging Research in Work and Health.

The hour-long public presentations, by work and health researchers from IWH, across Canada and around the world, are usually held at 11 a.m. Tuesdays at the Institute’s downtown Toronto location. People who can’t attend in person can watch the presentation via a live stream. Check the schedule often for upcoming presentations, including two this month—one on the burden of occupational cancer and the other on workplace interventions to manage depression. 

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Announcing the Institute’s 2017/2018 Syme training fellows

Congratulations to three public health researchers who have been named recipients of IWH’s 2017/2018 S. Leonard Syme Training Fellowships in Work and Health. The fellowships were established in honour of Dr. Syme, a pioneer in the field of social epidemiology and chair of IWH’s Scientific Advisory Committee from 1995 to 2002. The three recipients and their research projects are:

  • Meghan Crouch, University of Waterloo—Mental health in the workplace;
  • Kimberly Sharpe, University of British Columbia—Regional variation in health care in five Canadian workers’ compensation systems and its relationship to return to work; and
  • Robert Shaw, University of British Columbia—Supporting employment for young adults with disabilities.
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A Q&A on what we know—and don’t know—about marijuana and workplace safety

The federal government says it’s committed to legislation making recreational cannabis legal by July 1, 2018. As that date approaches, many workplace parties are concerned about the implications for occupational health and safety (OHS). So what does the research to date say about marijuana use and OHS? Find out in a Q&A with two of our researchers. (Hint: There’s a lot we need to learn.)

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Standing too long at work linked to increased risk of heart disease

There has been a lot of interest in recent years in the health risks of prolonged sitting. However, a recent study by IWH and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found the risk of heart disease is twice as high for people in jobs that mostly involve standing (e.g. cooks, tellers, cashiers) compared to those in jobs that involve mostly sitting. Read about the findings, and check out a sidebar that tackles some of the misconceptions out there about the study. (Here’s one: It’s not about standing desks.)