Research Highlights

Research Highlights is an easy-to-read, lay-audience summary of a study led by a scientist from the Institute for Work & Health (or includes an Institute scientist on its research team) that has been published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal. Each research summary explains why the study was done, how it was done, what the researchers found and the implications of the study, where applicable. 
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What is the association between occupation and suicide risk among working Canadians?

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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Why some injured workers don’t return to work as expected

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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Are ergonomic interventions cost-effective?

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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How do small businesses implement health and safety processes?

One size does not fit all. When it comes to occupational health and safety interventions, small businesses have needs that completely distinct from those of larger organizations.
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Which workplace interventions are most effective in preventing upper extremity MSDs?

Ergonomics training, exercise programs, alternative pointing devices and keyboards and so on. A broad range of workplace interventions are available to reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the arm, hand, shoulder and neck. Which ones are effective?
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Study finds three groups of workers with low-back pain

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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Reducing musculoskeletal symptoms in health-care workers

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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Reducing work-related physical stresses to prevent MSDs

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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Workplace factors affect return-to-work accommodations

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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Older, previously ill workers benefit most from RTW program

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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Does ultrasound speed the healing of broken bones?

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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Unstable work increases risk of unwanted sexual advances

Interventions against sexual harassment at work should prioritize precarious work situations, particularly in the service sector, study suggests.
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High nerve injury pain predicts upper extremity disability

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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Heavy workloads linked to mental health, MSD treatment in health-care workers

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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Manufacturer saves money with participatory ergonomic program

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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Co-workers play important, but sometimes “invisible” role in RTW

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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Involving stakeholders helps research influence policy

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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Work factors affect off-the-job drinking habits

Work factors that affect job stress and job alienation can affect employee drinking behaviours off the job, study finds
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An approach to developing a return-to-work program

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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Examining OHS and workers’ compensation in non-profit organizations

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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