Document directory

Research Highlights
Workers disabled by low-back pain can be grouped into three different groups: (1) those with workplace factors, (2) those with no workplace factors, but greater back pain, and (3) those with multiple factors.
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Systematic Reviews
Robson LS, Stephenson C, Schulte P, Amick B, Chan S, Bielecky A, Wang A, Heidotting T, Irvin E, Eggerth D, Peters R, Clarke J, Cullen KL, Boldt L, Rotunda C, Grubb P
Occupational health and safety (OHS) training is an important part of managing workplace hazards and risks. However, many OHS stakeholders want to know whether training can meet the goals of decreasing workplace injuries and illness, and whether the cost of training programs can be justified. This report shares the findings of systematic review to determine whether OHS training and education programs have a beneficial effect on workers and firms.
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Research Highlights
Multi-component patient handling interventions can improve musculoskeletal health among health-care workers, including: a policy change at the worksite; implementation of new lift/transfer equipment; and broad-based training on the new equipment.
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Research Highlights
Health and safety interventions in small businesses can improve safety-related attitudes, behaviour and health. Evidence supports two intervention types: a combination of training and safety audits; and a combination of engineering controls, training, safety audits and rewards.
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Research Highlights
With a few exceptions, the characteristics of specific occupations do not influence the risk for suicide in Canada. For men, nine occupational groups have an elevated risk for suicide; for women, four occupational groups have an elevated risk.
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Research Highlights
For long-term and costly workers’ compensation claims, researchers identified four contexts in the return-to-work process that contributed to problems. The risk of a “toxic dose” resulted when problems occurred across the different contexts.
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Research Highlights
There is strong evidence that ergonomic interventions result in positive financial returns for firms in the manufacturing and warehousing sector and moderate evidence for the administrative and support services and health-care sectors.
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Tools and guides
This booklet contains evidence-based information on how people can live with short-term (acute) low-back pain. It contains reassuring advice about the course of typical back pain, as well as information on choosing the right treatment, what works and what doesn’t, and some common myths about back pain.
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Issue Briefing
Although young males have typically had higher work-related injury rates than older ones, this trend has changed in some parts of Canada, where young men now have similar rates as older men. This Issue Briefing presents a detailed breakdown of workplace injury rates for men and women in three provinces over time, and suggests potential reasons for the trends.
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Impact case studies
Research by IWH team confirms for Manitoba the need to increase OHS awareness among newcomers.
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Impact case studies
Knowledge exchanges across the prevention system helps research findings reach front-line consultants and shape service delivery model.
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Issue Briefing
Researchers have been looking at how unemployment affects mental health since the Great Depression of the 1930s, if not earlier. This body of research has shown that becoming unemployed has a negative impact on mental health. Also, people with mental health problems are more likely than others to become unemployed. This Issue Briefing summarizes the key research behind these findings and explores the implications for policy-makers in governments, and health and safety service providers.
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Annual Reports
Impact. The Institute for Work & Health's 2008 Annual Report
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Issue Briefing
Research is emerging that “newness” is associated with a higher risk of work injury. Whether it’s young workers, workers of all ages new to their jobs, recent immigrants or employees in newly established firms, the evidence indicates that these workers face higher injury rates and/or more hazardous jobs. This Issue Briefing summarizes the key research behind these findings and explores the implications for policy-makers in governments and health and safety service providers.
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Project reports
Breslin FC, Wood M, Mustard C
This report from the Institute for Work and Health and the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres looks at work injuries and health and safety knowledge among a high-risk group of workers: young people aged 15 to 24 who are out of school, especially those with less than a high school diploma.
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Issue Briefing
A worldwide recession has begun in the wake of the fall 2008 meltdown of financial markets. What is the likely impact of the recession on workers’ compensation costs? Are work-related injuries likely to be more severe? What can we anticipate about claim frequency and severity when recovery occurs and economic growth resumes? This Issue Briefing explores findings from past research on workers’ compensation and the business cycle from the Institute for Work & Health and other sources.
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Sharing Best Evidence
Injuries to the upper extremity are common among workers, accounting for about 30 per cent of lost-time claims in Ontario in 2006. The upper extremity includes the neck, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. This systematic review looked at the effectiveness of interventions to prevent upper extremity disorders and traumatic injuries.
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Accomplishments Reports
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Research Highlights
While workers in non-profit organizations face a number of work-related hazards, a case study finds that provincial health and safety legislation across Canada is not always well-suited to this sector.
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Research Highlights
In a survey of 500 orthopedic surgeons in Canada and the United States, just over half held a favourable or neutral view or chiropractors. The rest had a negative view.
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Research Highlights
Workplace factors (such as firm size and union status) have greater influence than individual factors (such as health) on the likelihood that an injured worker will be offered and will accept modified work. The findings suggest more attention needs to be paid to workplace factors early in the return-to-work process.
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Tools and guides
This booklet outlines six key steps that have been shown in the research to contribute to the success of a participatory ergonomics program, based on a systematic review by IWH researchers.
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Research Highlights
Workplace programs that aim to reduce stresses on the body – also known as mechanical exposure – are one way to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), or soft-tissue injuries.
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Research Highlights
A workplace-based program that has workers and supervisors jointly identify and solve return-to-work barriers is found to be particularly effective in reducing absences among older workers and workers previously off work due to an illness.
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Research Highlights
Interventions against sexual harassment at work should prioritize precarious work situations, particularly in the service sector, study suggests.
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Research Highlights
What worker or workplace factors are linked to musculoskeletal or mental health problems among nurses and support staff? This study of 21,000 health-care workers points to heavy workloads among the most important factors.
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Research Highlights
Sears JM, Hogg-Johnson S
In 2004, Washington State enacted a three-year pilot program enabling nurse practitioners to work in an expanded role as “attending providers” for injured workers. Following an evaluation, the program was made permanent. This case-study-based research showed how involving stakeholders enhanced the impact of research on health policy.
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Research Highlights
There is a lack of high quality evidence to support the use of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound therapy to speed the healing of broken bones, although overall results appear promising.
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Research Highlights
Patients who seek medical help at least six months after an upper extremity nerve injury also report a considerable level of disability that is associated, in part, with chronic pain.
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Research Highlights
A small but important minority—14 per cent—of injured workers experience recurrent neck pain, accounting for 40 per cent of all lost-time days due to neck pain, according to a study of claims made to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
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Research Highlights
Intervention mapping is a useful framework for developing customized return-to-work (RTW) programs that have been found to be more effective than non-tailored plans.
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Research Highlights
Participatory ergonomic (PE) programs may be worth undertaking based on their financial merits — savings found not in fewer or shorter work-related injury absences but in shorter absences due to non-work injuries.
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Research Highlights
Work factors that affect job stress and job alienation can affect employee drinking behaviours off the job, study finds
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Tools and guides
This evidence-based guide addresses the warning signs (red flags) of a potentially complicated recovery and return to work, as well as the helpful practices (green lights) that can help ensure the recovery and return go smoothly.
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Systematic Reviews
Amick B, Kennedy-Yee CA, Dennerlein JT, Brewer S, Catli S, Williams R, Serra C, Gerr F, Irvin E, Mahood Q, Franzblau A, Van Eerd D, Evanoff B, Rempel D
Injuries to the upper extremity are common among workers, accounting for about 30 per cent of lost-time claims in Ontario in 2006. The upper extremity includes the neck, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. The systematic review described in this report looked at the effectiveness of interventions to prevent upper extremity disorders and traumatic injuries. Note that this systematic review was updated in 2016.
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Sharing Best Evidence
Injury/illness prevention and loss control programs (IPCs) help protect workers from injuries, meet regulatory requirements, reduce the negative effects of injuries and manage costs. IPCs include the three Ps: work practices among employees, policies developed by employers and programs required by legislation. This systematic review has shown that there is strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of disability management/return-to-work programs.
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Systematic Reviews
MacEachen E, Breslin FC, Kyle N, Irvin E, Kosny A, Bigelow P, Mahood Q, Scott-Dixon K, Morassaei S, Facey M, Chambers L, Couban R, Shannon HS, Cullen KL, Amick B
Small businesses have unique challenges with occupational health and safety (OHS). Overall, workers in small business have a higher risk of injury than workers in large firms, yet small-business owners and their workers may not have a sense of this increased risk because a work injury in any one small workplace is relatively rare. This reports shares the findings of a systematic review conducted to provide an understanding of, and guidance on, how to implement OHS in small businesses and what OHS programs are most likely to work.
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Research Highlights
A study of five non-surgical treatments for neck pain — nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Cox-2 inhibiting NSAIDs, exercise, mobilization, and manipulation — found no one treatment option for neck pain was found to be clearly superior when both benefits and harms were considered.
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Annual Reports
Achieving Together. The Institute for Work & Health's 2007 Annual Report
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Accomplishments Reports
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Tools and guides
This tool, based on IWH's Seven "Principles" for Successful Return to Work, offers guidance to occupational therapists on how to collaborate with workplace parties in the development of successful return-to-work programs.
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Systematic Reviews
Van Eerd D, Cole D, Irvin E, Mahood Q, Keown K, Theberge N, Village J, St Vincent M, Cullen KL, Widdrington H
This report contains appendices to the 2008 systematic review on the process and implementation of participatory ergonomics interventions.
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Research Highlights
Despite a lack of official data on the labour force participation of pre-teens and young teens, 12- to 14-year-olds are working and getting exposed to the same OHS risks as other workers, according to a study conducted in Ontario and B.C.
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Research Highlights
Neck pain in workers results from a number of individual and workplace factors. This review examines the role of age, physical fitness, work demands, job insecurity, among others.
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Research Highlights
Despite reports linking chiropractic care with vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke, this study finds no evidence that visits to a chiropractor increase the risk of a stroke.
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Research Highlights
Working in a not-for-profit social service organization can be rewarding, but the job can come with health risks. However, a study finds the organization's mission can be a powerful concept in non-profit organizations, resulting in workers putting their clients’ well-being before their own.
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Research Highlights
Clinicians who assess patients with neck pain should triage them into one of the four categories or grades to determine the need for further diagnosis or treatment.
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Research Highlights
Temporary work does not appear to increase the rate of work-related injury or illness absences lasting a week or longer. What's more, those with multiple temporary jobs had fewer absence spells.
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Research Highlights
Neck pain is a persistent and recurring problem in workers. About 60 per cent of workers who experienced neck pain reported having it one year later.
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