Interjurisdictional Knowledge Transfer in Occupational Safety and Health: Lessons from Eastern Canada
Regional, national, and international disparities in investments in occupational safety and health research and in knowledge transfer have contributed to a variability in awareness among stakeholders and decision-makers of relevant research findings and in the implementation of programmes and policies for the prevention of injuries and accidents. One way to reduce such disparities and improve occupational safety and health prevention would be to increase the frequency and effectiveness of occupational safety and health knowledge transfer between high-resourced and low-resourced regions or countries. However, knowledge transfer is a complex and challenging process, even within the same industrial sector or jurisdiction. Knowledge transfer across jurisdictions and sectors is all the more challenging. This paper documents the lessons learned from a programme to transfer a range of occupational safety and health research products within Canada from resource-rich Québec to Newfoundland and Labrador, a province with a much shorter and narrower history of occupational safety and health research and knowledge transfer. Four different transfers involving four different economic sectors were carried out under the auspices of the Eastern Canada Consortium on Workplace Health and Safety. The transfers involved researchers, compensation commissions and community partners in both jurisdictions. Consistent with the growing literature on knowledge transfer, our comparative analysis of these four knowledge transfer initiatives suggests that interjurisdictional knowledge transfer needs to be approached with particular forethought and care. Outcomes will depend on a range of factors including: the nature of the product that is being transferred; similarities and differences between the policy and organisational contexts of the two jurisdictions; and the presence of adequate receptivity and resources at the ‘receiving end’. While ‘cold’ transfers of pre-packaged knowledge transfer products can be relatively cheap (although costs of adapting, reproducing and distributing these should not be underestimated), such products may not actually be adopted and/or used because of resource, communication and relevance challenges at the receiving end.