Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s workers in Ontario became increasingly aware of the toll of injury and disease caused by dangerous and unhealthy working conditions. A groundswell of opinion demanded more effective diagnosis of work-related health problems and effective prevention strategies. The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) was established in 1989 by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and is funded through the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL). The first clinic opened in 1989 in Hamilton, with subsequent clinics opened in Toronto, Windsor, Sudbury, Sarnia, Thunder Bay and more recently Ottawa.
Staffed by an inter-disciplinary team of nurses, hygienists, ergonomists, researchers, client service coordinators and contracted physicians, each OHCOW clinic provides comprehensive occupational health services and information in five areas:
- An inquiry service to answer work-related health and safety questions
- Medical diagnostic services for workers who may have work-related health problems
- Group service for workplace health and safety committees and groups of workers
- Outreach and education to increase awareness of health and safety issues, and promote prevention strategies.
- A research services to investigate and report on illnesses and injuries.
Our clients include workers, joint health and safety committees or representatives, unions, employers, health professionals, community groups, legal clinics, students and members of the public.
OHCOW is governed by an eighteen person volunteer Board of Directors. At the local level each of the seven clinics has a Local Outreach Committee (L.O.C.). The management of OHCOW is comprised of the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and the Executive Directors of the seven clinics.