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Study shows unionized worksites are safer

June 23, 2023  By Don Horne

A new study by the Institute for Work and Health has found that lost-time injury claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are 31 per cent lower on unionized building trade construction jobs than they are in a non-union environment.

The study also found that claims for severe injuries are 29 per cent lower on union job sites.

In 2015, the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) published a study on the effect of unionization on the incidence of workers’ compensation claims in companies from the institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI) construction sector in Ontario, using data from 2006 to 2012.

That study concluded that unionization lowered the likelihood of organizations reporting lost-time injury claims and increased the likelihood of them reporting no-lost-time injury claims.


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The study analyzed WSIB data from more than 50,000 companies representing 1.7 million workers in the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction sector between 2012 and 2018.

The study is a followup to a similar analysis completed in 2015 with data up to 2012, with similar conclusions: unionization is associated with lower risks of lost-time claims including both musculoskeletal injuries and more severe, critical ones.

The updated study has found the union safety effect has strengthened over the past five years, when claims from unionized construction workers were 23 per cent lower compared to unrepresented construction workers.

The current study also found that as the size of the company grows, the incidence of claims drops, with 36 per cent fewer claims in unionized companies with more than 50 employees — and the bigger firms tend to be unionized.

(with files from the St. Catharines Standard)

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