A study by Toronto's Institute for Work & Health (IWH) found that unionized construction firms are more likely to submit work-related injury claims and less likely to submit lost-time injury claims.
IWH researchers examined construction-industry claims submitted to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), from 2006 to 2012.
The findings found:
• Unionized construction firms submitted a 13 per cent higher rate of claims and a 28 per cent higher rate of no-lost-time claims (those that need healthcare treatment without time off work).
• Non-unionized firms submitted a 14 per cent higher rate of lost-time claims and experienced an eight per cent higher rate of musculoskeletal injuries.
"What we think is going on is that leadership is encouraging people to report injuries," explained Dr. Ben Amick, a senior scientist with IWH and one of the study's lead investigators. "Unions are supporting that reporting; that allows companies to reduce hazards. I don't think it's any more complicated than that."
One of the study's hypotheses was that oh&s is one of the indicators of high performance in a company, leading to higher-quality work with fewer errors or problems.
"This is just one piece of a bigger puzzle that has to do with union-certified employers just being better performers," said Dr. Amick. "Health and safety's nothing more than part of good operational work. And that's probably more important in construction than in many sectors."
You can download "Protecting Construction Worker Health and Safety" from here.