Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Improving Work Organization to Reduce Injury and Illness: Social Services, Stress, Violence & Workload: Final Report

Document type Report
Author Baines, Donna
Author Lewchuk, Wayne
Author Slade, Bonnie
Author Brooker, Ann-Sylvia
Author Dimitrova, Dimitrina
Author Hadley, Karen
Author Pollack, Shoshana
Author Preston, Susan
Date 2002
Pages 28 pages


This report compares work organization and workload at three [Ontario] developmental service agencies in order to identify factors that precipitate and contribute to injuries, stress and health problems in the social services. The restructuring of services in this sector has resulted in reduced funding and therefore workloads and health risks associated with overwork and burnout appear to have increased dramatically in all three sites studied. Restructuring has also exposed workers and clients to higher levels of stress and violence. This study also uncovered serious incidents of workplace bullying and traumatic work cultures. While workplace bullying certainly predates restructuring, some studies show that it is a phenomena that has seen rapid growth within the context of restructured public sector and non profit workplaces. Given the serious under funding of this sector it may appear that there is little that can be done to improve health and safety in the short term. However, this report recommends several measures including an immediate increase in government funding, the incorporation of worker’s knowledge into how work is to be organized and planned, guarantees to part-time workers of enough hours of work to support themselves, an end to the use of split shifts, a cap on overtime and subsequent hiring additional fulltime staff in order to ensure workplace stability and the introduction of immediate, assertive, transparent measures to improve workplace morale and eradicate traumatic workplace cultures. --Executive Summary