TORONTO — The latest newsletter from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) reports on a study conducted in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario by the IWH that shows workers are more likely to report injuries at work when they are engaged in work exposing them to a common work hazard.
For example, said IWH senior scientist Dr. Peter Smith, lead investigator of the study, an office worker who hurts their back lifting a box of documents is less likely to report the injury than someone who lifts and carries heavy things regularly as part of their job.
Workers were asked in November 2017 to June 2018 to complete the OHS Vulnerability Survey, a 27-item IWH tool developed by Smith, the newsletter reported.
Of the 326 surveyed workers who said they had been injured in the previous 12 months, 64 per cent said they did not report their injury to a workers’ compensation board. This under-reporting was consistent in all three provinces; little difference in reporting levels was found among them.
Workers who were exposed weekly to one or more of nine common work hazards were more likely to report their injuries. Among the 271 workers who indicated being exposed, 40 per cent reported their injuries. In comparison, among the 55 workers who did not indicate being exposed to these hazards, only 22 per cent reported their injuries.
The study was published in January 2020 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Victoria Nadalin, an IWH research associate and lead author of the article on the study, said more research is needed but suggested the results may have to do with levels of awareness about the importance of injury reporting. When asked questions related to their awareness of occupational health and safety rights and responsibilities, the injured workers with inadequate awareness were less likely to report, the newsletter reported.
The newsletter was published online on Aug. 6.