Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario’s unionized construction firms safer than non-union firms, study shows

OCS-sponsored study shows fewer injuries and lost time accidents

TORONTO—Unionized construction firms in Ontario are safer than non-union firms, according to a new Institute for Work & Health study.

The study, which was funded by the Ontario Construction Secretariat, examined Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims data between 2006 and 2012 from more than 40,000 construction firms across Ontario.

The results show unionized workers reported 23 per cent fewer injuries requiring time off work than non-union workers. THE OCS notes this is the first peer-reviewed Canadian study to examine the occupational health and safety benefits of unions in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional construction sector.

“These findings suggest that unionized workers are encouraged to report injuries, including injuries that don’t require time away from the job,” Institute for Work & Health senior scientist and study co-lead author, Ben Amick, said. “At the same time, these reporting practices enable construction unions to better identify and proactively manage workplace hazards that lead to injury.”

Specifically, the study found workers at unionized firms were 17 per cent less likely to experience musculoskeletal injuries and 29 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries while on the job.

In spite of filing fewer claims resulting in critical injuries and time off work, unionized workers reported a greater total number of “no lost time” claims.

“Creating safe and healthy workplaces continues to be a core value of the unionized construction industry in Ontario,” Sean Strickland, CEO of the Ontario Construction Secretariat, said. “This first-of-its-kind study shows that the union safety effect is having a tangible impact in Ontario’s ICI construction sector and through our investments in safety, specialized training and apprenticeship programs the unionized construction sector in Ontario is showing its commitment to being a leader in worksite safety and productivity.”

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