Objective: To investigate the feasibility, costs and sample representativeness of a recruitment method that used workers with back injuries as the point of entry into diverse working environments.
Methods: Workers' compensation claims were used to randomly sample workers from five heavy industries and to recruit their employers for ergonomic assessments of the injured worker and up to 2 co-workers.
Results: The final study sample included 54 workers from the workers' compensation registry and 72 co-workers. This sample of 126 workers was based on an initial random sample of 822 workers with a compensation claim, or a ratio of 1 recruited worker to approximately 7 sampled workers. The average recruitment cost was CND$262/injured worker and CND$240/participating worksite including co-workers. The sample was representative of the heavy industry workforce, and was successful in recruiting the self-employed (8.2%), workers from small employers (<20 workers, 38.7%), and workers from diverse working environments (49 worksites, 29 worksite types, and 51 occupations).
Conclusions: The recruitment rate was low but the cost per participant reasonable and the sample representative of workers in small worksites. Small worksites represent a significant portion of the workforce but are typically underrepresented in occupational research despite having distinct working conditions, exposures and health risks worthy of investigation.