Commenced in January 2007
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Examination of the Occupational Health and Safety Training for New Immigrant Workers in Alberta, Canada

Authors: Shu-Ping Chen, Janki Shankar, Alexa Adams, Claire Joe, Nathalie Klinger, Erika Laforest


Background: New immigrants are over-represented in workplaces that are hazardous to their safety and well-being. Workplace injury and/or illness can be minimized if sufficient Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) training is provided prior to entering the workforce. This study aims to understand the current status of OH&S training for new immigrant workers in Alberta, Canada. Methods: A Qualitative Description approach was implemented with inductive data analysis methods. Sixteen participants were recruited – seven new immigrant workers (NIWs), and nine providers from agencies that provide settlement and employment services for immigrants. All participants took part in a semi-structured interview with a set of predetermined questions regarding their understanding of (1) OH&S issues specific to new immigrant workers, (2) current Alberta OH&S rules and regulations, and (3) current and ideal OH&S training for NIWs. Thematic content analysis guided the data analysis. Results: Four main themes emerged from the data which impact the current status of OH&S for NIWs: (1) attitudes towards OH&S and the logistics of training, (2) personal barriers, (3) Canadian workplace culture, and (4) macro-level interconnected systems. Three main themes emerged from the data that described what is needed for OH&S training to help NIWs: (1) increasing accessibility, (2) ensuring understanding of content and application, and (3) building confidence. Conclusions: OH&S training practices do not currently mitigate safety risks in places of work for NIWs, and NIWs do not feel empowered to exercise their worker’s rights. New OH&S training protocols and practices would be beneficial to equip this population to enter the Alberta workforce.

Keywords: employment services, occupational health and safety, empowerment, Canadian workforce, new immigrant workers

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