Hot off the presses...and into the hands of practitioners

Getting new and updated Institute for Work & Health tools to practitioners is paramount, and this season the Institute was full steam ahead.

Published: January 18, 2012

Two updated tools and one new tool from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) are now available, or soon will be. Each has direct application on the frontlines of health and safety. Here’s a quick look at what they offer.

Third edition of the DASH manual

Late 2011 saw the release of the much-anticipated third edition of the manual for the most popular clinical tool developed by IWH researchers to date: the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) Outcome Measure.

The DASH is an effective resource for helping injured workers return to work because it gives clinicians a reliable and responsive instrument to assess upper extremity joints. It is a 30-item questionnaire that asks about physical function, symptoms and social/role function. A shorter version, the QuickDASH, is also available. Both have been translated into 30 languages.

IWH Research Associate Carol Kennedy led the update in collaboration with one of the manual’s developers, IWH Scientist Dr. Dorcas Beaton. Prior to the DASH, there were lots of measures pertaining to different regions and various disorders of the upper limb, but nothing to cover multiple regions and multiple disorders of the entire extremity, she says.

At 300-plus pages, the third edition of the manual includes over 60 published articles on measurement properties of the DASH; a new chapter on the QuickDASH; new chapters on cross-cultural adaptations; and two optional modules—one for athletes and performing artists, and one for workers whose jobs involve a high degree of physical performance. Each study provides a piece of evidence on how the DASH performs. We hope that the current edition makes understanding and using this resource easier and more accessible, says Kennedy.

The electronic version of the DASH manual costs $40, or $90 ($70 plus $20 for shipping in Canada) when purchased with the printed version. The DASH and QuickDASH questionnaires are free. For more information, go to:

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Prevention is the Best Medicine (PBM) is a new toolkit from IWH designed to help settlement agencies and others teach newcomers to Ontario about basic rights and responsibilities regarding occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation. The 11-item toolkit includes fact sheets and a vocabulary list for learners, and sample lesson plans, presentation slides and advice on handling difficult issues for workshop leaders.

This tool is the first of its kind, says IWH Research Associate Marni Lifshen, who coordinated the project. PBM distinguishes itself from existing resources in several ways:

  • It is based on extensive stakeholder consultation with those working in the immigrant settlement, injured worker, and health and safety fields.
  • It was generated with the help of focus groups made up of settlement agency service providers and new Canadians, and then pilot-tested in Toronto.
  • It is written specifically to address newcomers’ needs, and designed to be  integrated into language-learning and employment-preparation programs.

This toolkit fills an important void, says IWH Scientist Dr. Agnieszka Kosny, principal investigator and project lead. IWH research shows that newcomers are more likely than Canadian-born workers to be in jobs with a higher number of health and safety hazards. Recent immigrants may be at higher risk of work injuries, and less likely to access compensation.

Prevention is the Best Medicine is available at:

Manitoba version of the Smart Planner  

The Health & Safety Smart Planner is a software program designed to help workplaces understand the benefits and costs of occupational health and safety programs and interventions. Ongoing monitoring of these interventions is good practice, says Dr. Emile Tompa, the IWH scientist who led the team that developed the program.

While the Ontario version of this tool has seen over 900 downloads, a Manitoba version is being launched in early 2012, and it includes some important upgrades:

An aggregate incident data option allows users to enter combined incident data, which saves time involved in data entry.

A multiple incidents summary feature enables users to view summary statistics on incidents stored in the database, which allows for trend analysis.

The Manitoba version also comes with a new instructional video. The upgrades and video in the Manitoba version will be incorporated into other provincial versions as well. The Smart Planner is available at: