A recent study by Canada’s Institute for Work & Health (IWH) has replicated an earlier finding, in which unionised companies have lower lost-time injury rates than non-unionised firms in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional construction (CIC) sector.

Using workers’ compensation claims data from 2012 to 2018, the study found that unionised ICI construction companies had a 25-per-cent lower rate of lost-time injuries than non-unionised ones.

Sponsored by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS), the study also found a 23-per-cent lower rate of musculoskeletal injuries and a 16-per-cent lower rate of critical or severe injuries in unionised compared to non-unionised counterparts.

These findings are similar to those in the original study, also funded by OCS and published by IWH in 2015. OCS is a joint management-labour not-for-profit organisation, created under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, to represent the interests of the unionized ICI sector.

Results were shared during the IWH Speaker Series webinar presented by IWH Scientist Dr Lynda Robson, who co-led the study with IWH Senior Scientist and President Dr Cam Mustard.

“This study was not designed to examine reasons for the observed union safety effect and, therefore, cannot be definitive about those reasons. However, the results are consistent with the focus of many unions on controlling occupational health and safety (OHS) risks at worksites,” noted Dr Robson.

“Unions’ actions include putting OHS in collective agreements, delivering worker training, sharing OHS information, and participating in joint health and safety and worker trades committees, It may also be that the presence of a union empowers workers to report unsafe conditions and refuse unsafe work,” she added.

Click here for the full report on the findings.