Working conditions and health

What are the effects of work, workplace and labour force conditions on the health and safety of workers and other members of society? Institute for Work & Health (IWH) research in this area seeks to understand the context in which government, sector-based and workplace injury and disability prevention programs operate. This research explores known and emerging injuries, diseases and disorders that are related to job, workplace and/or labour market conditions. It looks at the scope, potential causes and risk factors for these injuries and illnesses, as well as their effect on workers, workplaces, regulators and society as a whole.

Latest news and findings

Masked restaurant worker prepares take-out food orders

Issue Briefing examines role of workplace COVID outbreaks in Ontario’s second wave

In the current second wave of COVID-19 in Ontario, workplace outbreaks—not including outbreaks in health-care, congregate living (e.g. correctional) and educational settings—represent slightly over five per cent of all cases among working-age adults, down from a high of 22 per cent in June. That’s according to an analysis by IWH Scientific Co-Director Dr. Peter Smith and President Dr. Cam Mustard, detailed in a new Issue Briefing.

Read the Issue Briefing
Three construction workers smile for the camera

The “union safety effect” in Ontario’s construction sector: study update

Five years ago, a study conducted by IWH compared work-related injury rates between unionized and non-unionized companies in Ontario’s institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) construction sector. It found unionized companies had lower rates of lost-time injury claims than their non-unionized counterparts, after accounting for other factors like company size. Is this “union safety effect” still holding true? On Tuesday, January 12, Dr. Lynda Robson shared an update at an IWH Speaker Series presentation. The full report of that study is now available.

Read the report
A worker wearing an apron and a cloth facial mask

Second study finds COVID-19 protection at work is linked with workers' mental health

Levels of anxiety and depression are higher when workers feel they lack COVID-19 protection on the job. That's according to a study of Canadian workers not in health-care, a second in a pair of studies conducted by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) in the early months of the pandemic. Mental health was even poorer among essential workers who said they had no protection at work than among those who had lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, according to this second study.

Read about the study
Illustration of three workers, two of whom are smoking

Infographic: Cannabis use at work since 2018 legalization

How have trends in cannabis use changed among workers in Canada since the substance was legalized for recreational purposes in 2018? Findings from the first two surveys of an ongoing IWH project on this question are now available in an infographic.

Download the infographic
Paper cutouts of faces in profile

Inequalities growing in Canada in rates of early death

Although early death rates have fallen for nearly all socioeconomic groups in Canada, they're falling faster for some more than others. A new study by Dr. Faraz Vahid Shahidi, IWH Mustard post-doctoral fellow, finds inequalities in premature mortality have widened over 25 years between people with the highest and lowest income and education levels. 

Read about the study