Determinants of health and safety in unionized and non-unionized firms in Ontario’s construction sector

We’re looking for managers and supervisors who have supported workers with chronic diseases to take part in this study

If you're a manager or supervisor with experience accommodating employees with chronic physical or mental health conditions, we’d like to talk to you about the challenges you have experienced in supporting these employees while also balancing privacy needs. Your participation would consist of a confidential phone interview of about 30 to 40 minutes.

If interested, please email or call 1-855-884-1416.

Reasons for the study

The construction sector in Ontario and beyond experiences high rates of work injury, death and disability, so understanding the factors that improve health and safety outcomes in the sector are important. Earlier research from the Institute for Work & Health found that union-certified firms in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction sector have 20 per cent fewer lost-time, musculoskeletal and critical injury workers’ compensation claims than non-unionized firms. This project aims to identify the workplace policies and practices associated with lower rates of work-related injury and disease among Ontario construction workers, and how these potentially differ in unionized and non-unionized workplaces.

Objectives of the study

  • To understand the union and employer drivers  of injuries and illness
  • To describe how unions and union-certified firms contribute to lower lost-time, musculoskeletal and critical injuries

Anticipated results/impact

The result of this research will be relevant to the construction sector, unions, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and other policy-makers and prevention partners. As well, the research may help inform the public discourse on whether certain public-sector construction projects should continue to be restricted to union-certified firms in Ontario.

Related interviews and articles

IWH study in construction sector suggests unionized firms are safer. At Work: Institute for Work & Health; No. 82, Fall 2015.
Hand in hand. OHS Canada: Annex Newcom (Toronto, ON). November 1, 2015. Available from:

Project status


Research team

Ben Amick, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Desiree Latour-Villamil, Institute for Work & Health
Ron Saunders, Institute for Work & Health
Paul Demers, Cancer Care Ontario
Chris McLeod, University of British Columbia

Participating organizations

Ontario Construction Secretariat
Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Funded by

Ontario Ministry of Labour's Research Opportunities Program