OSH research in skilled trades

Skilled trade research, innovation, and education in occupational safety and health (STRIVE OSH)

Improving Canadian and Ontario skilled-trade businesses' success and competitiveness by directly addressing workforce challenges and preventing workplace injuries and disabilities. 

Funding agency: Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Key project partners: Private Sector Businesses and Employer Groups [BrandSafway, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Business Council on Occupational Health and Safety (BCOHS), Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc.], Labour Unions and Trades Associations [Labourer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 506 Training Centre, United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) Local 2222, Wood Manufacturing Council, Skills Ontario], Health and Safety Associations [Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA)]

Status: Ongoing (2021-2024)

CISWP’s goal is to improve the success and competitiveness of Canadian and Ontario skilled-trade businesses, by directly addressing workforce challenges and preventing workplace injuries and disabilities. There are three pressing needs of the skilled trades industry: a) sustaining the rapidly aging workforce, b) reducing the risk of worker injury, and c) improving job accessibility for underrepresented groups such as women, people with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and Indigenous peoples. The outcomes of this work will have direct economic and societal impacts for Ontario, will train the next generation of skilled trade workers in the province, and will help industries (particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises) build capacity and assist in promoting business innovation and commercialization.

This project consists of nine interlinked research projects across three themes: a) build capacity of the current and next generation of the skilled trades workforce, b) develop and innovate tools, guidelines, and best practices through applied research, and c) knowledge and technology exchange and exploitation.  

Project 1: Review and evaluate health and safety content of skilled trades training programs at Ontario colleges

Project 2: Create a comprehensive database of job exposure information including requirements and physical demands

Project 3: Evaluate health and safety competency of student/trainee cohorts throughout their training program

Project 4: Identify opportunities for experiential learning of health and safety and create a toolbox of resources for trainers  

Project 5: Create a workforce profile for skilled trade trainees to identify strategies to optimize capabilities with job demands and requirements

Project 6: Understand assistive technology uptake and identify facilitators, barriers, and risks

Project 7: Create a toolbox of existing OSH standards, guidelines, best practices, and resources for skilled trades organizations

Project 8: Provide state-of-the-art knowledge and skills development opportunities through webinars, infographics, and short-term courses

Project 9: Create resources to encourage diverse populations into the skilled trades by highlighting the positive and healthy aspects of skilled trades work

PI: Amin Yazdani, PhD, CSP

CO-PI: Marcus Yung, PhD, CPE

Research team: Bronson Du, MSc; Kumar Somasundram, MSc; Daniel Fournier, MSc

Improving worker health and performance in construction: implementation and adoption of advanced technologies

Facilitating capacity to improve adoption and implementation of Assistive Technology in the construction industry to mitigate risk of injury while increasing workforce sustainability.

Funding agency: NSERC and SSHRC College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF)

Key project partners: Private Sector Businesses and Employer Groups [Cesaroni Contracting Inc., Clifford Masonary Ltd.,, Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc.], Labour Unions and Trades Associations [Labourer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 183, Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO), Brick and Allied Craft Union (BACU) Local 5, Ontario Formwork Association (OFA), United Association Local 46], Health and Safety Associations [Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA)]

Status: Ongoing (2021-2024)

Canada is experiencing a dramatic shift in its workforce demographic as Canadians are living longer and delaying retirement. Sustaining a rapidly aging workforce is a concern for Ontario's construction industry, which faces two challenges: a) the number of older workers is increasing faster than many other industries and b) construction workers experience a greater risk of injury and disability and the risk of recurring injury is high. Construction injuries are among the most costly across all industries in Ontario. Without intervention, in Ontario alone, the construction industry expects a significant shortage of skilled workers over the next decade. As such, the community has an immediate need to prolong the working life of the aging construction workforce. A promising solution to reducing injury risk is the emerging use of commercially available assistive technologies (AT). Although AT has the potential to be valuable for older workers performing demanding tasks, they are not readily adopted in the construction sector. AT are more likely to be adopted by construction organizations and their workers if they demonstrate advantages such as increased productivity and improved work quality but are less likely to be adopted if they are perceived to be costly. Therefore, providing empirical evidence to support decision making of AT is recognized as an important initiative for its adoption.

Working with our partners in all facets of this research project, we will develop a decision-making toolkit (e.g., Tool Picker and Cost-Benefit Analysis Calculator) for AT that will benefit our partners by: a) reducing the costs of injury claims and lost days by reducing the risk of worker injuries; b) sustaining their older workforce thereby reducing employee shortages and leveraging the skillset of older and experienced workers to help mentor new employees; and c) improving worker productivity by augmenting worker capability to keep these organizations competitive.

This project consists of four main objectives:

Objective 1: Analyze job and task demands, worker demographics, injury rates, and physical job exposures to match specific construction jobs/tasks to appropriate AT

Objective 2: Investigate the impact of AT implementation and determine barriers/facilitators of adoption and adherence through a field study of worker productivity, biomechanical exposures, worker usability, and organizational costs

Objective 3: Improve adoption of adherence of AT by developing a decision-making toolkit using information from Objectives 1 and 2

Objective 4: Launch the decision-making toolkit and disseminate knowledge to the construction sector

PI: Amin Yazdani, PhD, CSP

CO-I: Marcus Yung, PhD, CPE; Kenrick Jordan, PhD

Research team: Bronson Du, MSc; Kumar Somasundram, MSc; Daniel Fournier, MSc

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