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New toolkit teaches new immigrants about workplace safety

By COS staff

A new resource from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) will help settlement agencies and others teach newcomers to Ontario about their health and safety rights and duties in the workplace.

Called Prevention is the Best Medicine, the 11-item toolkit contains everything needed to deliver instructional sessions on two separate, but related, topics within an Ontario context: occupational health and safety, and workers’ compensation. The toolkit is designed to be delivered to recent immigrants who are preparing to enter the labour force.

The teaching resource was developed in the wake of IWH evidence showing that newcomers are not getting this information.

“Prevention is the Best Medicine fills an important void,” says Dr. Agnieszka Kosny, the lead researcher of the team that developed the toolkit. “Research indicates that Ontario’s newcomers are more likely than Canadian-born workers to be employed in jobs with a higher risk of work injuries. Yet they receive little information in language-training classes or job-search workshops about their job health and safety rights and responsibilities, or what to do if they get hurt on the job.”

To ensure the toolkit’s relevance to its target audience—recent immigrants to Ontario accessing services through settlement agencies—the IWH research team worked in partnership with the following organizations:

Injured Workers' Consultants;

Skills for Change;

Workers Health and Safety Centre;

Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board;

Ontario Ministry of Labour;

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services; and

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.

It also piloted the toolkit at a settlement agency in Toronto, with the aim of integrating the modules into existing job-search programs.

“We don’t think there’s anything comparable,” says IWH research associate Marni Lifshen, who coordinated this project. “This tool is written in accessible language, with an approachable tone, informal information and practical true-to-life examples. It’s the first package of its kind.”

The toolkit includes handouts for learners, sample lesson plans, slide show presentations and more. It is free for download from:

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