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Comparing the risk of work-related injuries between immigrants to Canada and Canadian-born labour market participants
  1. P M Smith,
  2. C A Mustard
  1. Institute For Work & Health, Toronto, Canada
  1. Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health, 481 University Ave, Suite 800, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2E9; psmith{at}


Objectives: To examine the burden of work-related injuries among immigrants to Canada compared to Canadian-born labour force participants.

Methods: Using data from the 2003 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Surveys (n = 99 115), two nationally representative population samples, we examined the risk of self-reported, activity limiting work-related injuries among immigrants with varying time periods since arrival in Canada. Models were adjusted for hours of work in the last 12 months as well as various demographic and work-related variables.

Results: Immigrant men in their first 5 years in Canada reported lower rates of activity limiting injuries compared to Canadian-born respondents. Surprisingly, the percentage of injuries that required medical attention was much higher among recent immigrants compared to Canadian-born respondents, resulting in an increased risk of activity limiting injuries requiring medical attention among immigrant men compared to Canadian-born labour force participants. No excess risk was found among female immigrants compared to Canadian-born female labour market participants.

Conclusions: Immigrant men in their first 5 years in Canada are at increased risk of work-related injuries that require medical attention. A similar risk is not present among immigrant women. Further, given differences in the number of activity limiting injuries requiring medical attention across immigrant groups, we believe this excess risk among immigrant men may be underestimated in the current data source. Future research should attempt to fully capture the barriers faced by immigrants in obtaining safe employment, the number of injuries that are sustained by immigrants while working, and the consequences of these injuries.

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  • Funding: This work was supported through a grant from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Research Advisory Council (#06026).

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Approval for the secondary data analyses was obtained through the University of Toronto, Health Sciences I Ethics Committee.