Annual Report 2022-2023


Occupational Illness

OHCOW’s clinical work, large cluster investigations, and vulnerable worker lens, provide a unique perspective on a full circle occupational illness/disease prevention approach (primary, secondary and tertiary) and continue to provide leadership to Ontario’s Occupational Illness Prevention System Focus. 

Though the global pandemic has created continuing demands for the latest science and prevention tools in response to COVID-19, it has also fostered an unprecedented public awareness of Occupational Illness/Disease and the Hierarchy of Controls. This awareness can and must be leveraged to the longer latency priorities of the Occupational Illness Prevention Plan. 

Occ|tober 2022: Worker-Focused Science & Prevention Webinars

occtober webinarPreventing Occupational Illness/Disease is an Area of Focus in Ontario’s Prevention Works 5-year strategic plan. OHCOW leads the Occupational Illness Steering Committee (formerly the Occupational Disease Action Plan (ODAP)) aligning the efforts of the Occupational Health and Safety System and partners to reduce the incidence and burden of occupational illness/disease whether chronic/long latency or more acute/infectious.

The 2022 Occ/tober session Kickoff event was online October 27, and featured Chief Prevention Officer Dr. Joel Moody. He spoke about the Collective Impact of the Occupational Health & Safety System Partners efforts through the Occupational Illness Prevention Steering Committee (OISC) (formerly the Occupational Disease Action Plan -ODAP).  This includes bringing the Silica Control Tool to Ontario, the Occupational Disease Review, and the upcoming Healthy Worker in Healthy Education & Enforcement Initiatives.

As the sessions continued into November, topics included the Diesel Exhaust Exposure tool, and addressed other occupational exposures. Speakers include: MLITSD Program Leads (Industrial, Mining, Healthcare, Radiation) Cristina St. Pierre, Provincial Hygienist, William Roy, Director, Strategy and Integration, MLITSD, Kimberly O’Connell, Executive Director, OHCOW (Co-Chairs OISC).

October 27, 2022: Worker-Focused Science & Prevention Webinars Kickoff Event

November 3, 2022: Diesel Exhaust Exposure – Influencing Change

November 10, 2022: Occupational Exposures and Community Responses

November 17, 2022: Worker Informed Science: Learning and Collaborating

November 24, 2022: Making It All Easier: Knowledge Mobilization & Tools Webinar

Rubber Worker Project

McIntyre Powder Project

Ventra Plastics Plant

General Electric Plant

Dryden Weyerhaeuser Recovery Boiler

Occ-Covid Webinar Series

The COVID & Infectious Diseases Reference Team (CIRT)

Messaging on Airborne Precautions

The Importance of Clean Air in the Workplace

Commit to C.A.R.E. is a public awareness campaign with a mission to level the playing field of understanding of environmental strategies to combat COVID-19 and other airborne viruses like measles and tuberculosis. The goal of the Commit to C.A.R.E. website is to provide access to science-based information about infectious diseases and how to reduce their spread in the workplace. It shares safe and practical action plans and recommendations to prevent disease transmission. Clean air is more important than ever given increasingly transmissible variants plus increased air pollution risk due to climate change.

OHCOW has teamed up with the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium (IBEC) to encourage workplaces to Commit to C.A.R.E. (Community, Awareness, Responsibility and Equity): leveling the playing field to understand environmental strategies to combat COVID-19 and other airborne viruses like measles and tuberculosis.

The June 2022 Occ-Covid Webinar series featured content addressing the C.A.R.E. program.

 OCC-COVID Webinar Series: Cleaning the Air and Committing to C.A.R.E.

Advocating for Safer Diesel Legislation in our Underground Mines

The current Occupational Exposure Limit in Ontario for Diesel Particulate is set at a dangerously high level. This poses an unacceptable occupational disease risk to thousands of mine workers who are being exposed.
USW Local 6500 has partnered with the Center for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) to combine advocacy with applied research. The Diesel Particulate Project’s objective is to provide education and awareness to our mine workers and their families to create meaningful change in our underground mines. Our team consists of occupational health and safety experts, researchers, labour activist, occupational hygienists, and worker compensation representatives.
Our mission is simple, bring the Occupational Exposure Limit for Diesel Particulate in Ontario to a safe, scientifically recommended level.

Diesel Exhaust Lung Cancer Relative Risk Calculator

The calculator can be used as a guide to communicate the risk from DEE exposure and lead to prevention.

Webinar: Diesel Exhaust Exposure – Influencing Change

In this webinar, Part of the Occ/tober 2022 Webinar Series, learn how workers and researchers are influencing change to reduce DEE exposures in Mining through the Diesel Particulate Project. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that Diesel Engine Exhaust (DEE) is a cause of lung cancer (Group 1: carcinogenic to humans). CAREX Canada (2022). Approximately 966,000 Canadians are currently exposed to diesel engine exhaust at work. Potential next steps through tool development and continuing analysis of additional data/evidence will also be discussed.


  • Sean Staddon, WSIB Worker Representative, United Steelworkers Local 6500;
  • Dr. Sandra Dorman, Ph.D., Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH);
  • Tobias Mankis, Science Communication Officer, CROSH
  • Dr. Kevin Hedges, Ph.D., Occupational Hygienist, OHCOW.

This video by Sonia Lal and James Miuccio details the hazards and proper PPE wear and precautions to use when working with granite and its particulates. The basics are covered with regards to the mineral itself, silica, the health hazards and how we can implement controls.

Presenters: James Miuccio, Occupational Hygienist, CIH, CRSP; and Sonia Lal, Occupational Hygienist, CIH, CRSP

Silica Control Tool Pilot Program for Construction Industry

OHCOW has created a new and improved web page about Silica, and an Infographic in the works.

The British Columbia Construction Safety Association (BCCSA) has developed the Silica Control Tool™ as a resource for the construction industry in BC. The Tool assists workplaces in conducting appropriate risk assessments and implementing effective controls and safe work practices where RCS dust may be an occupational hazard. Through the compilation of data relating to RCS dust exposures pertaining to various materials, tools and tasks in construction, the Tool can predict the expected exposures to workers under similar conditions.

The BCCSA, in partnership with the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), intends to provide access to the Silica Control Tool to a limited number of Ontario workplace parties for a period of 12 months starting in 2021. The intent of this exercise is to provide Ontario employers an opportunity to utilize the Silica Control Tool, the associated data, and its outputs. The Silica Control Tool will help Ontario workplaces, in assessing risk of exposure to RCS dust in the workplace and in developing control plans to help minimize exposure.

The pilot will be funded by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) and access to the Tool will be provided in partnership with the BCCSA and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).