Conestoga’s Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP) has received a $360,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) for a project titled Improving Worker Health & Performance in Construction: Implementation and Adoption of Advanced Technologies. This project is one of two recently announced CCSIF projects at Conestoga and is supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Conestoga's CISWP has received a $360,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) College and Community Social Innovation Fund for a project that will aim to improve worker health and performance in the construction industry.
“The construction sector expects a significant shortage of skilled workers in the next 10 years. Together, the substantial physical demands and rapidly aging workforce contribute to high employee turnover, premature retirement, increased risk of workplace injuries and disabilities and a depleting skilled workforce,” said Dr. Amin Yazdani, director of CISWP. “Injuries and disabilities in older workers are particularly concerning as they are often more severe and require longer recovery time compared to their younger counterparts.”
To aid in the sustainability of the construction workforce, the CISWP research team aims to address these concerns through the development of tools that will assist organizations with the adoption and adherence of assistive technologies (AT). According to Yazdani, AT will be particularly valuable to older workers who are expected to perform physically demanding tasks. For example, the use of exoskeleton technology in the workplace could help prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
“This research will help support worker safety by reducing the physical demands associated with construction work,” added CISWP’s research project manager, Dr. Marcus Yung. “This will reduce incidence of injury and disability, improve organizational productivity and provide institutional knowledge, expertise and mentorship to intergenerational teams.”
Over the course of the three-year project, CISWP will develop tools that allow for easier adoption of AT solutions in the construction industry based on individual organizational needs. These tools include an AT-Tool Picker and a Cost-Benefit Analysis calculator to ensure organizations can confidently implement the use of assistive technologies that are available to them.
Key community partners for this project include nine major unions, trades associations, health and safety associations and private sector businesses. Yazdani said these partners prioritize the health and safety of their workforce and have expressed concern regarding injury rates among their older workers.
It is expected these key partners and their extensive network of stakeholders will actively collaborate with CISWP on this initiative. With an increased use of AT, Ontario construction organizations can expect to see a reduction in the injury and disability rate among older workers, in turn reducing the industry’s workforce shortage.
Yazdani and Yung will also work with faculty member Dr. Kendrick Jordan, from Conestoga’s School of Business, and researchers from the University of Waterloo and Ryerson University as well as several other key stakeholders over the next three years to fulfill the objectives of this project.
This project will add to the college’s growing capacity in applied research that drives business and community innovation while providing opportunities for students to develop career-ready skills in experiential learning environments. More than 3,100 students and close to 240 faculty and staff were engaged in applied research projects during the 2019-2020 academic year.
The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance, located within Conestoga’s School of Business, works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice, and strengthening workforce development - all in collaboration with stakeholders. For more information contact CISWP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about applied research at Conestoga, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/research.