DCN ARCHIVES

September 10, 2004

Research Advisory Council

Report ‘heartbreaking’ reminder of need for better workplace safety

BY GRANT CAMERON

STAFF WRITER

Tragedies on the job still occur daily in Ontario so there is more work to be done, says Jill Hutcheon, interim chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

“At the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and with the Ministry of Labour, I have witnessed first-hand the workplace tragedies that occur daily in Ontario,” she said in a five-year report on activities of the Research Advisory Council (RAC) that was presented recently to the WSIB board of directors.

“They are heartbreaking reminders that there is still more to be done to make our jobs safe and our places of work healthy.”

Hutcheon said there is hope, however, that the vision of eliminating all workplace injuries and illnesses can be a reality.

“That hope is being realized through the efforts of many dedicated individuals.”

Hutcheon said the creation of the advisory council and the growing influence the council’s leadership is having on researchers, employers, workers, and health and safety professionals throughout the province is making a difference.

She said the WSIB understands that it has to contribute to research if the board and its stakeholders want early access to research-based knowledge.

“Most large knowledgebased organizations know that they simply can not survive without a strong research and development program.”

Hutcheon said the WSIB initiated a commitment to research development in Ontario with the establishment of the Institute for Work & Health in 1990, and that commitment was enhanced with the creation of the WSIB-funded advisory council in 1998.

Since its inception, the RAC has consulted broadly with stakeholders and listened to their concerns, Hutcheon said, and the objectives, purposes and research priorities based on the consultations are published annually in a request for proposals called Solutions for Workplace Change.

A small WSIB Research Secretariat administers grants and other research activities under the program. The first grants were awarded in the fall of 1999.

According to Hutcheon, the main goal of Solutions for Workplace Change is to provide sound, researchbased knowledge that will help Ontario workplaces become safer and healthier.

She said the goal is to enhance Ontario’s occupational health and safety research capability and promote the transfer of research knowledge into the workplace.

Solutions for Workplace Change has funded dozens of young researchers, many of whom are engaged in post-graduate study focused on occupational health and safety issues they knew nothing about five years ago.

“These are the leaders of tomorrow. They hold the hope that our children will work in safer and healthier environments. We’re using our health and safety partners, internal subject matter experts and front-line staff to ensure the results of the research are transferred in ways that bring real changes to the workplace.”

Hutcheon said the WSIB and the RAC have engaged many researchers across Ontario during the past five years and together they are building a solid foundation for a sustainable applied research enterprise that will benefit millions of people in Ontario and beyond.

“The partnerships that are growing with employers, workers, unions, health-care providers and health and safety professionals will ensure that the research continues to create knowledge, and that the knowledge continues to drive change in the way we work.

“Together, we are making a difference.”

The five-year report of the RAC highlighted a number of projects that have been completed over the last five years.

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