What are the long-term health and labour market outcomes of workers who experienced work-related COVID‑19 transmission?

Smith, Peter M | $412,136

Ontario Institute for Work & Health 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to the Canadian workforce. Key among these disruptions are the health and work impacts of COVID‑19 on workers who acquired their COVID‑19 infection during the course of their employment, often providing essential services. For example, in Ontario there have been almost 28,000 accepted workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19, and more than 32,000 cases attributed to workplace outbreaks. It is important to understand what the long-term health and employment outcomes are amongst workers who acquired COVID‑19 through workplace exposures. Canadians who have acquired COVID‑19 at work likely experience unique circumstances that could influence how well they recover physically, how they fare emotionally, and their process of returning to the workplace where their infection occurred. To better understand these impacts in this study we will collect survey data to estimate the prevalence of depression, anxiety, physical function, and self-rated health among these workers, as well as documenting if they are back at work, and working in the same occupation. We will conduct surveys approximately 18 months after the initial COVID‑19 absence. We will compare these experiences with other workers who had a workers’ compensation claim around the same time, but where the injury and illness was not related to COVID-19. Findings from this project will provide a much needed knowledge base for workplaces and workers’ compensation agencies to better understand and address the impacts of COVID‑19 among workers in Canada.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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