Sharing Best Evidence

Sharing Best Evidence provides a quick overview of what the research says on a specific issue or question facing stakeholders in occupational health and safety, workplace disability management and related fields. The information in each issue comes from the findings of a systematic review conducted according to the methods developed by the Institute for Work & Health’s Systematic Review Program. 
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Racial and ethnic inequities in the return-to-work process

In the first systematic review on the subject, IWH examined the research literature on racial and ethnic inequities in return to work. It found strong evidence that non-white workers are less likely than white workers to return to work following an injury or illness—and moderate evidence that Black workers face pronounced barriers.
A man kneels as he works with decking boards on a patio

Work activities and the development of osteoarthritis in men and women

A systematic review by the Institute for Work & Health finds strong and moderate evidence that work exposures—including lifting, cumulative physical loads, full-body vibration and kneeling/squatting/bending—can increase the risks of osteoarthritis in men and women. No increased risk was found for sitting, standing and walking (hip and knee osteoarthritis); lifting and carrying (knee osteoarthritis); climbing ladders (knee osteoarthritis); driving (knee osteoarthritis); and highly repetitive tasks (hand osteoarthritis).
Japanese craftsperson stands in front of his workstation, smiling

What workplace interventions help workers with MSDs, pain and mental health conditions return to work?

This update of a previous systematic review sets out to find workplace-based interventions that are effective in helping workers with musculoskeletal, pain-related and/or mental health conditions return to work.
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What workplace programs help prevent upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders?

Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include painful conditions and injuries of the muscles, tendons, joints and nerves that affect the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. This update of a previous systematic review sets out to find occupational health and safety (OHS) interventions that effectively prevent and manage upper extremity MSDs.
Top down view of man walking up spiral staircase

Factors affecting RTW following acute low-back pain

This systematic review set out to find what factors affect the length of time it takes before returning to work. The aim was to identify which workers with acute low-back pain are at high risk of long-term absences and, therefore, in need of extra attention to help them recover and return to work more quickly.
A man stands in shadow with head down

Effectiveness of interventions to address depression in the workplace

Little information is available on the effectiveness of workplace programs to target depression. This systematic review set out to provide such information. It searched the research literature to look for interventions for managing depression in the workplace that were effective from an employer's point of view.
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Finding tools to measure the impact of KTE activities

The effectiveness of current knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) practices has not been routinely or consistently evaluated, in part because of a lack of instruments for assessing the impact of KTE activities. This systematic review searched the literature to find instruments that can accurately and reliably measure KTE activities. Although few were found, some showed promise.
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Promising KTE evaluation tools

A systematic review of the literature to find tools that effectively measure the impact of knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) activities concluded that few well developed instruments are available to evaluate the implementation and impact of knowledge transfer and exchange practices. However, it did find 16 articles describing instruments that showed promise as useful tools in the evaluation of KTE activities, and references for these are provided here.
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Effectiveness of OHS education and training

Occupational health and safety (OHS) training is an important part of managing workplace hazards and risks, but do they result in fewer work-related injuries and illnesses? This systematic review set out to determine whether OHS training and education programs have a beneficial effect for workers and workplaces.
A view from the back of a woman holding her neck

Do workplace programs protect upper extremity musculoskeletal health?

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.
Blurry image of people at computer terminals

Are workplace prevention programs effective?

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.
Three workers talking in a shipyard

Factors for success in participatory ergonomics

In participatory ergonomics (PE), a team works together to identify risks, and change tools, equipment and work processes to improve workplace conditions. PE programs can reduce work-related injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues. This systematic review identifies the factors that can increase the likelihood of a successful PE program in workplaces.
A brewery worker inspects equipment

Improving health and safety in small businesses

Small businesses have unique challenges with occupational health and safety (OHS). This systematic review was conducted to provide an understanding of, and guidance on, how to implement OHS in small businesses, and to identify effective OHS programs.
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Is it worthwhile investing in health and safety programs?

Before employers invest in workplace health and safety interventions, they want to know the financial implications of their investment. The goal of this review was to explore whether such interventions are worthwhile from an economic point of view.
Hospital workers push bed down hallway

Prevention programs for health-care workers

Health-care workers face a high risk of developing injuries to their muscles, tendons or other soft-tissues, including back pain. These injuries are also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). IWH conducted a systematic review to summarize the existing scientific literature on the effectiveness of MSD prevention programs for health-care workers.
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Summary of a systematic review of factors associated with occupational disease among young people

Young workers are more likely than older workers to sustain work injuries, and as a result, significant resources have been spent on young worker safety programs. This systematic review takes a comprehensive look at the factors that lead young workers to get injured.
A man sits at his computer terminal

Preventing MSDs among computer users: summary of a systematic review

This systematic review examines studies on the effects of workplace interventions on two of the most common health complaints among computer users: visual symptoms and upper-body musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
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Systematic review of risk factors for injury among youth: summary

Young workers are more likely than older workers to sustain work injuries, and as a result, significant resources have been spent on young worker safety programs. This systematic review takes a comprehensive look at the factors that lead young workers to get injured.
Close-up of a hand completing a checklist

OHS management audit instruments: summary of a literature review

What is known about the reliability and validity of occupational health and safety (OHS) audit instruments? This narrative literature review looks at OHS audit tools for OHS management systems, including those designed for high-hazard and high-reliability operations.
A factory worker fills out form

Effectiveness of OHS management systems: summary of a systematic review

Occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMSs) have developed considerably over the last 20 years, yet little is known about their effectiveness. The systematic review aimed to provide the evidence on the the effectiveness of mandatory and voluntary OHSMSs and identify facilitators and barriers to their adoption and implementation.