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Work Wellness Institute Membership!

Advance your Career & Improve your Workplace

Membership Includes:
  • 350+ Lectures on Demand
  • 18 self-paced e-Courses
  • Accreditation opportunities
  • Certifications for Members Only;
    • Leadership Certification
    • Inclusivity Recruitment & Retention Certification
    • Work Wellness Ambassador Certification

Learn More about our Membership Program

Course Description

Work in the construction industry is much different than in traditional workplaces as workers most often behave as independent operators, work at different locations where the conditions change on a daily basis, are employed on a contingent basis on specific projects, and self-determine how the work is to be done.  The industry itself has been described as “chaordic” a term which refers to organizational systems that blend chaos and order. Implementing health and safety programs in construction is challenging as the solutions and learnings from research and practice in traditional workplaces are typically ineffective. This webinar presents findings and experiences emanating from over 6 years of effort by CRE-MSD researchers to reduce MSDs in the construction sector in Ontario.  

You will learn:

  • How the unique characteristics of work in construction are similar to modern transitional workplaces in which work is increasingly project based and insecure
  • How a system of complex networks operates in the construction sector and how effective dissemination of information relies of these networks
  • How open and closed networks operate
  • How to share knowledge with non-literal learners
  • That experiential knowledge is important in improving work practices and can be a powerful force in influencing change
  • About potentially novel approaches of implementing change to impact the burden of MSDs and musculoskeletal pain in construction workers

Take home message:

  • Approaches in health, safety, and ergonomics that are effective in fixed, traditional workplaces often do not work in the complex, dynamic construction environment
  • A recognition of the differences between small, medium and large companies is critical when designing implementation programs
  • An understanding of the power dynamics and social networks operating in the construction sector are essential in designing new programs and occupational health & safety interventions
  • Case studies of interventions with plumbers and with workers handling ladders show the importance of understanding networks
  • Interventions that reduce physical ergonomic risk factors, often through changes in process or tool design, may be effective when implemented with the consideration of local context and networks that are in place
  • Small interventions are easy to introduce and can have a significant impact


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If you are having any issues, please contact [email protected]

Presentation Partners:


Partially funded by:

This program is pre-approved by VRA Canada for a 1 hour training session


Philip Bigelow

Dr. Phil Bigelow is an associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo and has a background in occupational epidemiology. He teaches epidemiology in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program and provides research mentorship in the Collaborative PhD Program in Work and Health, an inter-departmental program within the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. Dr. Bigelow holds an appointment at the Institute for Work and Health where he was a specialist in program evaluation and intervention studies prior to joining the University of Waterloo. He was a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Health at Colorado State University for over 10 years where he conducted research in exposure assessment, occupational epidemiology, and construction health and safety. He held a NIOSH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award in which he studied exposures and health effects in construction painters. He led a NIOSH research project that evaluated “HomeSafe” which is a novel, residential construction safety program involving a partnership of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Denver. His current research interests include gaining an understanding of factors that improve the safety performance of firms and improve the implementation and uptake of health and safety interventions. He also has a passion for the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and is a Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of MSD (CRE-MSD) researcher.

PhD (Cand.)

Nicolette Carlan

Nicolette Carlan is a PhD candidate and Project Coordinator at the University of Waterloo completing her dissertation on the path from science to workplace change. She holds an MES from York University and MA in Sociology from the University of Windsor. She has published with the research team and independently about the relationship between work organization, specifically lean production and occupational health. Previously she chaired the Ontario Occupational Disease Panel, was a vice-chair at the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Tribunal, and was the executive director of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Introducing Interventions into the Chaordic Construction Environment

    • Pre-Survey

    • Introducing Interventions into the Chaordic Construction Environment

    • Introducing Interventions into the Chaordic Construction Environment - Presentation Slides

    • Evaluation Survey