A 19-year study conducted by the Institute for Work & Health has reached a conclusive end. After a long range of follow-up studies, the IWH has found that people with permanent work-related injuries are at a higher risk of premature death.
The IWH’s Associate Scientist, Dr. Heather Scott Marshall, has coined this phenomenon ‘work disability’ — which stems from these permanent injuries and refers to “ the difficulty they face staying in the labor market.” This doesn’t only relate to serious injuries which may hamper a worker’s performance. Instead, this disability is a combination of the physical and psychological difficulties of copying with these permanent injuries at work and at home.
On top of that, these physical disabilities may make workers more susceptible to discriminatory hiring practices. The chance of re-entering and staying in the labor market plummets in certain instances of recalcitrant discrimination by these potential employers.
For nearly two decades, the IWH has been gathering data on 19,000 Ontarians with permanent injuries they suffered while on the job. The IWH compared people without work injuries but similar enough in characteristics like gender and income to those with permanent work injuries. They found that the death-rates in the injured groups were 30 percent or higher than those of the comparable non-injured people and a whopping 50 percent higher in groups with less rigorous similarities.
Women with permanent work injuries who earned 75 percent of what they made pre-injury saw a 27 percent decrease in death rate compared to those only earning 25 percent of what they made before the injury. Those who received these injuries earlier on (from about 25 to 39 years of age) were more likely to die prematurely.
According to Scott-Marshall, this could be a direct tie to younger labourer’s lack of an established place in the labour market. Either that, or the work might have been too physically demanding to return to after the injury. There is no conclusive evidence for this yet, though Scott-Marshall is continuing research with the IWH on this matter.