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Text Description of Vulnerability Continuum – Examples of the Factors that Impact Vulnerability

  • Issued: December 16, 2013
  • Content last reviewed: December 2013

Some workers are more vulnerable than others to injuries, illnesses and fatalities. A worker’s vulnerability depends on many individual and workplace factors that interact in complicated ways to increase the risk of occupational injuries, illnesses or fatalities.

The vulnerability continuum depicts examples of some of the factors that make workers vulnerable. These factors are grouped into three categories: individual, workplace, and dynamic factors.

Individual factors include: age, literacy level, length of time in Canada, experience of racialization and physical and mental ability.

Workplace factors include: the newness of job tasks, hours of work, wage/earnings and level of employment stability.

Dynamic factors include: knowledge of occupational health and safety rights and responsibilities, fear of reprisal and occupational health and safety skills.

A risk continuum for each factor shows that factor’s influence on vulnerability. The risk decreases from high to low along the continuum. At the high end, workers are at greater risk of being vulnerable to injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

A shaded box shows the workers who are most vulnerable because they are on the high end of the risk continuum for multiple factors.

Example 1: A young worker would be at the higher end of the risk continuum for age. An older worker may also fall at the higher end of this risk continuum.

Example 2: A worker new to his or her job may fall at the high end of the risk continuum for newness while a seasoned employee familiar with the work would fall on the low end of this risk continuum.

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