Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Are new workers at elevated risk for work injury? A systematic review
  1. Frederick Curtis Breslin1,2,3,
  2. Jocelyn Dollack1,
  3. Quenby Mahood1,
  4. Esther T Maas4,
  5. Marie Laberge5,
  6. Peter M Smith1,2,6
  1. 1 Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 School of English and Liberal Studies, Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5 School of Rehabilitation, Université de Montréal, Centrede recherche du CHU Ste-Justine and CINBIOSE, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  6. 6 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Frederick Curtis Breslin, Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E9, Canada; cbreslin{at}


Objective To identify, appraise and synthesise studies that have examined the degree to which new workers are at an elevated risk of work-related acute injuries and musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries.

Method We searched three relevant electronic databases for studies published between 1995 and early 2018. Fifty-one studies using multivariate analyses met our relevance and quality appraisal criteria. These studies examined two different work outcomes: acute injuries (eg, cuts, burns and falls) and MSK injuries (eg, repetitive strain).

Results In four of six studies looking at acute work injuries, new workers were found to be at an elevated risk of injury (ie, moderate supportive evidence of new worker risk). In another six studies looking at MSK symptoms, injuries or disorders, evidence of an elevated risk among new workers was insufficient or limited.

Conclusions Our review has potential implications for the prevention of work injuries, providing policy-makers and workplace parties with supportive evidence about the importance of prevention efforts focused on new workers, such as developing workplace policies that emphasise hazard exposure reduction, hazard awareness, hazard protection and worker empowerment.

  • epidemiology
  • health and safety
  • injury

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors FCB, PMS and ML: developed the research question. QM and JD: completed the literature search. FCB, JD and QM: carried out the evidence synthesis, with feedback from PMS, ML and ETM. FCB, ETM and QM: wrote the manuscript in consultation with PMS, ML and JD. FCB: responsible for the overall content of the review. All authors were involved in the relevance screening, quality appraisal and data extraction steps.

  • Funding This research was supported by internal funding from the Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.