Cannabis and workplace fatalities: establishing a baseline in Ontario

Reasons for the study

On October 17, 2018, cannabis use for non-medical purposes was legalized in Canada. Cannabis-related workplace injuries have been identified as an important public safety metric to keep an eye on. Yet, no existing population-based data source can readily be used to estimate the current extent of, or to monitor trends over time in, the involvement of cannabis in workplace injuries in Canada.

Coroner records, which provide detailed information on the causes and circumstances of death (including toxicology), may represent an important existing source of data for measuring and identifying trends in cannabis use among workers who are fatally injured on the job. Using coroner data housed at the Office of the Chief Coroner from Ontario, this study aims to assess the feasibility of using coroner data as a source of information on cannabis-related workplace fatalities.

Objectives of the study

  • Measure the proportion of workplace fatalities that undergo toxicology testing; assess the nature and quality of data available on toxicology testing; examine the worker-, workplace-, injury- and incident-related factors associated with being tested; and describe trends over time
  • Among cases with toxicology data, estimate the nature and extent of cannabis involvement in workplace fatalities; explore variations in fatalities by worker-, workplace-, injury-¬†and incident-related factors; and describe trends over time, comparing fatalities involving cannabis with those involving other substances and no substances

Anticipated results/impact

This project will assess the feasibility of using coroner data to measure and monitor cannabis-related workplace fatalities, and to provide initial pre-legalization information on cannabis involvement in workplace fatalities in Ontario. If using this data is determined to be feasible, this study will establish a standardized process to support ongoing surveillance following legalization and act as a pilot to inform a larger-scale study to expand data collection.

Project status

Ongoing

Research team

  • Nancy Carnide, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Momtaz Begum, Institute for Work & Health
  • Andrea Furlan, Institute for Work & Health
  • Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health
  • Kay Nasir, Institute for Work & Health
  • Lily Fang, Health Canada
  • Nikhil Rajaram, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
  • Melissa Smith, Employment and Social Development Canada

Participating organizations

Infrastructure Health and Safety Association
Public Services Health & Safety Association
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Workplace Safety North

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research