Pain, Prejudice and Working Postures


Pain, Prejudice and Working Postures: How a University- Union Agreement Allowed Researchers to Understand Musculoskeletal Problems Among Low-Paid Workers

Wednesday February 10, 2016 | 2:00PM- 3:30PM | 2101 Vari Hall (Sociology Common Room)


Karen Messing, PhD
Professeure émérite, Département des sciences biologiques et CINBIOSE, Université du Québec à Montréal

Forty years ago, the University of Québec at Montréal (UQAM) signed agreements with Québec’s major trade unions providing for education and research support. UQAM professors’ labour contract provides for released time and seed funding for such projects, financed primarily by UQAM. Although the agreements have been and are threatened by pressure from the right, they have continued to provide fertile ground for a large number of occupational health and safety research and training projects. Karen Messing, a professor of ergonomics in UQAM’s biology department, has been involved in a number of such projects, most at the request of union women’s committees and health and safety committees. Her talk will describe how science benefits from worker input.


Karen Messing is professor emerita of ergonomics in the Department of Biological Sciences and the CINBIOSE research center at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Most of her research arises from agreements between her university and community groups, and it deals with applications of gender-sensitive analysis in occupational health, constraints and demands of work in the health care and service sectors, especially prolonged static standing, and how workplace conditions affect work-family interactions. In 2014 she published Pain and Prejudice: What Science Can Learn about Work from the People Who Do, describing the consequences, for workers, of social class bias among health scientists. She has received the Governor General of Canada’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (2009), the 2014 William P. Yant Award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and various other academic awards.

Click here for event poster

Audio | Messing