A brief history

The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) is considered a world leader in work-health research. Established in 1990 as the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Institute, it was the first independent research organization of its kind. For 25 years—2015 marks IWH's 25th anniversary—the Institute has been providing research and evidence-based practical tools for clinicians, policy-makers, employees and workplaces.

In the late 1980s, two individuals identified the need for a research organization devoted to workplace health: Dr. Robert Elgie, then chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Ontario (WCB), and Dr. Alan Wolfson, then vice-chair and president. When the Institute was founded, researchers focused on three broad areas: the clinical management of work-related injury and disease; the training of rehabilitation professionals; and the quality of the WCB’s community-based rehabilitation services.

Dr. Fraser Mustard served as chair of the Institute’s first Board of Directors, from 1990 to 1999. He was instrumental in expanding the research mandate to include factors underlying workplace injuries. The organization was renamed the Institute for Work & Health in 1994 to reflect this broadened mandate. Today, the research program has been expanded to examine policy and work issues at the population level. In 2000, the Institute implemented an evidence-based strategy for knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE). Efforts in KTE have made IWH a leader in this emerging field as well.

The Institute originally established and maintained its reputation through several flagship studies. Among them are: