IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Immigrant Workers and OHS

  •   January 31, 2017

Montréal, January 31, 2017 - Every year, immigrant workers enter Québec’s labour force, thus changing the demographic and ethnocultural composition of workplaces. In order to better understand the employment characteristics of immigrants that could have implications for preventing occupational injuries, the researchers from the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) analyzed quantitative studies that documented the distinctive features of work performed by immigrants and the risks to their health and safety. The authors also analyzed the content of population surveys that could provide information on the risks to the OHS of immigrant workers.

Several differences between immigrant and native-born Canadian workers were reported. From the start, immigrants find it more difficult to integrate into the workforce than people born in Canada. Recognition of their experience, qualifications, certificates and degrees, in addition to linguistic barriers—all are factors that can add to these difficulties. A number of studies report few or no differences in some work and employment conditions (training, moonlighting, business size, etc.), but the findings vary depending on the variables considered, the methodology chosen and the source of data used. Other studies show that immigrants are more exposed to certain factors (physically demanding job, type of work schedule, etc.) associated with occupational injury risk. The study also revealed that certain variables (duration of residence, occupation, sector of economic activity, type of employment relationship, etc.) could be useful in identifying the most vulnerable groups.

“The inventory of 12 accessible data sources that we analyzed does not enable us to obtain a complete and detailed portrait of immigrant workers and their OHS. Variables related to work organization deal more with work duration than with psychosocial aspects. There is no conclusive data regarding the training and information about prevention that they receive. These information gaps prevent us from accurately documenting work-related impacts on the health and safety of immigrants,” remarks Pascale Prud’homme, researcher with the Scientific Division of the IRSST.

In order to improve occupational injury prevention and research planning, the researchers note that adding specific immigration and OHS variables to Statistics Canada and CSST data would make it possible to better document the situation of immigrant workers.

The results of the study can be consulted at no charge at To learn more about the IRSST’s research, follow us on the Web, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube.


Jacques Millette
Manager of Public Affairs