COVID-19

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. In short order, the world of work changed dramatically in Canada. Non-essential businesses were locked down. Some workers lost their jobs; others were sent home to work. Essential businesses kept going. Despite protections, workers in sectors ranging from health care to transportation to food production and retail faced risk of infection, illness and even death. IWH researchers are looking at the impact of the pandemic on workers and workplaces, and what it means going forward.

Featured

Workplace inspectors inspecting a workplace during COVID, as indicated by the masks they are wearing
At Work article

What research can do: Scanning how OHS authorities responded to the pandemic

A new Issue Briefing looks at common challenges in the way labour inspection authorities in developed countries around the world have responded to the pandemic
Published: December 2, 2021
Close-up of floor markings indicating six feet distances
At Work article

In most sectors, workplaces saw lower COVID transmission rates than in the community

What was the role of workplaces in contributing to COVID-19 case counts in Ontario? And what measures did workplaces across Canada put in place to reduce or prevent COVID spread? A team at IWH and Public Health Ontario draw on population-level data to find out.
Published: November 16, 2021
A masked personal support worker looks grimly at the camera
Research Highlights

Working conditions for Greater Toronto Area personal support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal support workers (PSWs) faced a range of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including concerns of contracting or transmitting the virus, reduced work hours and income, loss of childcare services and lack of paid sick leave. While the pandemic highlighted the importance of the PSW workforce to the Canadian health-care system, pre-existing poor working conditions—in particular, insecure jobs with few benefits—exacerbated COVID-19-related work experiences.
Published: July 2022
Journal article
Journal article

The psychosocial work environment among educators during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Occupational Medicine, June 2022
CBC logo
IWH in the media

Host of symptoms, variable recovery times complicate return to work for those with long COVID

Long COVID can be difficult for workplaces to grapple with, due to the variety of symptoms, the way it flares up unexpectedly and the unclear timeline for recovery. IWH Senior Scientist Dr. Peter Smith is among the researchers interviewed in this episode of The Current.
Published: CBC Radio - The Current, February 2022
Benefits Canada logo
IWH in the media

How the City of Toronto is supporting employee mental health in 2022 and beyond

As many organizations, including the City of Toronto, plan on bringing white-collar staff back to the office after some spent nearly two years working from home, employers are prioritizing employees’ mental-health support this year and beyond. Melissa Dunne interviews IWH Scientific Co-Director and Senior Scientist Dr. Peter Smith, among others.
Published: Benefits Canada, January 2022
OHS Canada logo
IWH in the media

Analyzing the data behind workplace spread of COVID-19

According to a pair of studies conducted jointly by the Institute for Work & Health and Public Health Ontario, layers of COVID-19 infection control measures were adopted in majority of workplaces through pandemic during the second and third waves. And between April 2020 and March 2021, rates of workplace COVID-19 transmission in most sectors were lower than rates of community spread.
Published: OHS Canada, December 2021
Workplace inspectors inspecting a workplace during COVID, as indicated by the masks they are wearing
At Work article

What research can do: Scanning how OHS authorities responded to the pandemic

A new Issue Briefing looks at common challenges in the way labour inspection authorities in developed countries around the world have responded to the pandemic
Published: December 2021
Close-up of floor markings indicating six feet distances
At Work article

In most sectors, workplaces saw lower COVID transmission rates than in the community

What was the role of workplaces in contributing to COVID-19 case counts in Ontario? And what measures did workplaces across Canada put in place to reduce or prevent COVID spread? A team at IWH and Public Health Ontario draw on population-level data to find out.
Published: November 2021
The Conversation logo
IWH in the media

Lessons from COVID-19 for the next pandemic: We need better data on workplace transmission

If we had, from the early days of the pandemic, routinely and systematically collected information from COVID-positive people about their work, we would have enhanced our understanding of the role of workplaces in the spread of COVID-19, the relative importance of mitigation strategies, and potentially allowed more people to continue working at the workplace with minimal risk. That's according to an op-ed co-authored by Institute for Work & Health's Dr. Peter Smith, Prof. Andrew Curran of the United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive, and Dr. Letitia Davis of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Published: The Conversation, November 2021