Occup Environ Med 70:49-56 doi:10.1136/oemed-2012-100920
  • Original articles
    • Workplace

Work injury risk by time of day in two population-based data sources

Open Access
  1. Peter M Smith1,2,4
  1. 1Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cameron A Mustard, Institute for Work & Health, 481 University Ave, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2E9; cmustard{at}
  • Received 15 May 2012
  • Revised 25 July 2012
  • Accepted 15 August 2012
  • Published Online First 26 September 2012


Objective To estimate the rate of work injury over the 24 h clock in Ontario workers over 5 years (2004–2008).

Methods A cross-sectional, observational study of work-related injury and illness was conducted for a population of occupationally active adults using two independent data sources (lost-time compensation claims and emergency department encounter records). Hours worked annually by the Ontario labour force by time of day, age, gender and occupation were estimated from population-based surveys.

Results There was an approximately 40% higher incidence of emergency department visits for work-related conditions than of lost-time workers’ compensation claims (707 933 emergency department records and 457 141 lost-time claims). For men and women and across all age groups, there was an elevated risk of work-related injury or illness in the evening, night and early morning periods in both administrative data sources. This elevated risk was consistently observed across manual, mixed and non-manual occupational groups. The fraction of lost-time compensation claims that can be attributed to elevated risk of work injury in evening or night work schedules is 12.5% for women and 5.8% for men.

Conclusions Despite the high prevalence of employment in non-daytime work schedules in developed economies, the work injury hazards associated with evening and night schedules remain relatively invisible. This study has demonstrated the feasibility of using administrative data sources to enhance capacity to conduct surveillance of work injury risk by time of day. More sophisticated aetiological research is needed to understand the specific mechanisms of hazards associated with non-regular work hours.

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