Keeping community-based PSWs safe in the workplace

Leah Rosenthal | Hamilton, ON | March 2, 2015

Ministry of Labour funds McMaster researchers to conduct Ontario-wide survey to improve occupational health and safety. Take the survey.

Community based personal support workers (PSWs) have a unique work environment. They work in, and travel between, client’s homes. They are exposed to hazardous working conditions such as the lifting and transferring of clients, violence from clients or their family members, communicable diseases, traffic accidents and unsafe work environments. Their work environment lacks many of the safety specifications found in institution settings thus placing them at risk.

Community PSWs work in the home/residence of their clients. There is little information on the incidence and the factors affecting work-related injuries and illnesses for PSWs. Our research will provide evidence and suggest recommendations for the prevention of occupational injury and illnesses…

A collaborative research team composed of McMaster University researchers (Drs. I.U. Zeytinoglu and M. Denton), a gerontologist (Dr. C. Brookman), a health care association executive (S. VanderBent), and a health and safety specialist (P. Boucher) are now working to provide data to increase the knowledge on occupational health and safety for community-based PSWs.

On March 2, 2015, PSWs across Ontario will be invited to participate in an online or print survey to share their views on the physical, emotional and psychosocial risk factors contributing to their occupational health.  The focus will be on work injuries, musculoskeletal disorders and chronic stress.

The goal of the research is to prevent injury and occupational health problems for PSWs providing home and community care in Ontario.

Isik Zeytinoglu, professor of management and industrial relations at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University is the principle investigator of the study.

“Community PSWs work in the home/residence of their clients. There is little information on the incidence and the factors affecting work-related injuries and illnesses for PSWs. Our research will provide evidence and suggest recommendations for the prevention of occupational injury and illnesses for community based PSWs in Ontario,” explains Zeytinoglu.

psw-feedingThis research leverages the expertise of many stakeholder groups including Home Care Ontario, the Ontario Community Support Association, the Public Services Health Safety Association, the Ontario Personal Support Worker Association, Personal Support Network of Ontario, the Service Employees International Union Local 1 (SEIU Healthcare Canada) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local Union 3358-01 in partnership with McMaster University and supported by the Ministry of Labour.

The research findings are particularly important to the employers of PSWs who strive to remain current with the health and safety challenges these workers face every day in order to update training and modify practices.

“Home care service providers have much to offer the broader system in terms of managing the delicate balance between the need to create a safe working environment for home care staff and providing safe care for clients while respecting their individual rights within their own homes,” says Sue VanderBent, co-investigator and CEO of Home Care Ontario.

It is expected that this research will contribute to improving the occupational health and safety of PSWs in Ontario. Recommendations on policy, procedure and practice will be made in order to prevent injury and support strong occupational health programs for PSWs providing home and community care in Ontario.


Isik Zeytinoglu’
s current research focuses on occupational health and safety of personal support workers in Ontario, employer flexibility strategies and non-standard employment issues, and job satisfaction, retention and employee wellness issues in Canada.

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Contact Info

For media inquiries, please contact:

Andrew Baulcomb, Communications Officer
DeGroote School of Business
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 24081
baulcoad@mcmaster.ca

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