2023-2024 Annual Report  | Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc.

Apps, Tools and Calculators

OHCOW's popular tools and calculators are always being updated for ease of use and to reflect changing factors in work environments. In the past year, some tools that were previously just available on an Excel Sheet are now moved to the web and apps are available, for both I0S and Google platforms. OHCOW has also created a new log-in platform that will provide personalized e-Courses and other features, MyOhcow.

More Options, Better Service

One of the most exciting developments at OHCOW over the past year has been the creation of a new online hub for users to sign into their own OHCOW accounts. From there they can register for webinars, eCourses and programs. Individualized certificates can be issued upon completion of learning content. Tools and Calculators can log their personal information. OHCOW can gather data to for information about users as it relates to OHCOW materials and access.

Creating an account is free and will allow OHCOW to:

  • provide users with a more personalized service,
  • remember users' input and selections,
  • deliver new programs, special announcements and offers, etc.
  • gather aggregate data about the performance of our website

Easier, More Convenient Use

The Office Ergo Calculator, Anthropometric Calculator, and Cold Stress Calculator have all been updated and revised. Previously they were downloadable programs in Excel or Power Point.  Errors could occur in these calculators depending on repeated opening of the page and Windows security features. Use of the calculators did not require login and information could not be tracked or updated.

The Cold Stress, Anthropometric and Office Ergo Calculators are now in a web based format and a mobile APP exists for each. The Anthropometric Calculator has improved graphics and re-organization of tables, and can now be exported to the Office Ergo Calculator. The Office Ergo Calculator has improved audio, graphics, and video. Its options now include metric or imperial measurements, keyboard tray selection (height adjustable, on desk), and dual monitors. Variables now include monitor distance and arm length.

The Keyboard Shortcut Tutorial was PowerPoint based and in the latest update was turned into a web-based format with a mobile app and enhanced video and graphics. A landing page allows the user an introduction to the tool and choice of operating system (Mac or Windows) and Language (English or French).

A New OHCOW Service Makes Learning Easier

Thumbnail image of the Office Ergonomics Reference Guide web versionOffice ergonomics is more important now than it has ever been before in our efforts to decrease and/or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders. Many workplaces do not have the financial resources (or time) to correctly train their workers in ergonomics, and specifically to identify and correct office set-up and use challenges.  Building on the popular Office Ergonomics Ergo Reference Guide, the Office Ergonomics e-Learning Course breaks down the key ergonomic principles of workstation components into modules that allow users to progress at their own pace, while learning how to recognize, assess, and control the ergonomic hazards related to computer work wherever it is done.

A new web-based app from OHCOW that allows you to accurately and efficiently capture the Physical, Sensory, Cognitive and Psychosocial demands of any job. This new online tool allows you to select the demands that are relevant to the job you are assessing and then steps you through each and every section in detail. After creating a quick job profile, you set up the relevant tasks and assign the various task elements. You can even include photos to enhance the job record. Additional sections include:

  • Administrative Considerations
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Tools, Equipment, and Materials
  • Environmental Considerations
  • Strength Demands
  • Body Posture Frequency
  • Sensory Demands
  • Cognitive Demands
  • Psychosocial Factors

You use simple checklists, picklists and text fields to enter information and you can even red flag items that are of concern.

Once all sections are finalized, you are presented with a complete Job Demands Analysis (JDA) that can be saved for future re-use and downloaded as a PDF for reference and record keeping purposes.

An Advanced Tool to Protect Workers

On November 3 2023, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers introduced the Silica Control Tool (SCT) a tool that will help protect workers from lung disease caused by inhaling the dust of crystalline silica, which is found in sand, rock, gravel, concrete, brick, stone, mortar, granite, glass, ceramics and many other materials. This is year one of a five-year plan. The Tool’s user interface has undergone a facelift for Ontario and has been fully customized to meet Ontario’s health and safety regulation and standards. The SCT is available at no charge to any worker or employer at risk of exposure to silica dust, the tool is easy to use and can be downloaded to a phone, laptop or desktop.

Dr. Joel Moody, Chief Prevention Officer/ Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, said on the day of the launch that "The Silica Control Tool will help empower employers and workers - from workplaces and operations of all sizes - to understand the hazards and prevention strategies related to working with silica. I want to recognize and thank OHCOW for their leadership to make this project happen."

OHCOW sent a media release and launched a social media campaign to inform the construction industry of the new tool and provide links to OHCOW's SCT page. This page features more information, instructions and links to register. The response to the social media posts saw a 50%+ increase in reactions, including "likes" and favourable comments.

Through a special budget, the project hired an external media company that helped to draw increased traffic to the web page, and created materials such as banners, infographics, posters, walllet cards and stickers.

A sample of the ads placed on social media, that linked to the SCT landing page on OHCOW's website:

The boosted posts resulted in more than 14,000 visits to the landing page. The registration page has more than 28,000 visits to date.

Sample screens from the Ontario Silica Control Tool

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Research Papers

Every year OHCOW's specialists participate in research to further knowledge and understanding of issues surrounding occupational health. Much of this research centres on lung disease caused by work in the mining field and other work environments, among other topics.  These papers are extensively read and cited in the occupational health medical community.

A research paper from 2022 published by OHCOW researchers has ranked among the top 10% of downloaded papers in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.  Sarcoidosis in Northern Ontario hard-rock miners: A case series was written by L. Christine Oliver MD, MPH, MS, Paul Sampara MEng, ROH, Donna Pearson RN, DOHN, Janice Martell BA, and Andrew M. Zarnke, BS.

In 2023, Andrew Zarnke, OHCOW Project Director, successfully defended his PhD thesis in Human Kinetics from Laurentian University. The report he co-authored describes a series of 12 cases of sarcoidosis in a group of hard-rock miners in Northern Ontario, Canada. The group had occupational exposure to silica and metal dusts consistent with previously reported associations. It is believed that the paper is the first such report about hard-rock miners.

The Journal commented in an email to co-author Andrew Zarnke that, "this achievement is a testament to the recognition and celebration of your work within the community."

Congratulations to the team!

Prepared by:
L. Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MSc, FACPM
Medical Consultant, OHCOW

Occupational Hygiene Review:
Krista Thompson, MHSc, ROH, CRSP
Occupational Hygienist, OHCOW

Editorial Review:
Janice Martell
Occupational Health Coordinator, OHCOW

EXERPT: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a member of the family of interstitial lung diseases known as idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIP). IPF is the most common of the IIPs.1,2 Histologically it is characterized and defined by patchy distribution of fibrosis that appears to arise from the pleural surface; foci of subepithelial fibroblasts; and microscopic honeycombing.1,3 This pattern is classified as “usual interstitial pneumonia”, or UIP.1,4

Prepared by: Paul Sampara, MEng, ROHOccupational Hygienist, OHCOW 

Last Updated April 18, 2023

Medical Review: Dr. Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS, FACPM, Medical Consultant OHCOW Occupational Hygiene Review: Kevin Hedges PhD, CIH, Occupational Hygienist OHCOW Editorial Review: Janice Martell, Occupational Health Coordinator, OHCOW 

Ontario hard rock miners have been exposed to four major carcinogens: respirable crystalline silica (RCS), diesel exhaust (DE), radon or radon decay products (RDP)and arsenic for many decades. The following is a summary of the findings from published scientific literature on the association between exposure to these carcinogens and the risk of lung cancer among miners and in particular among Ontario uranium or gold miners. A number of relevant studies have been published in the last 10-15 years. 

Prepared by: Paul Sampara, BSc., DOHS, MEng, ROH Occupational Hygiene Consultant OHCOW

Last updated: October 1, 2019

Medical Review by: Dr. L. Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS, FACPM Medical Consultant OHCOW
Occupational hygiene review by: Martin Albinger, Occupational Hygiene Consultant OHCOW
Editorial Review by: Janice Martell, Occupational Health Coordinator OHCOW

A summary of the development of the current WSIB Policy 23-02-03 “Lung Cancer Among Workers in the Uranium Mining Industry” and the epidemiological studies on the risk of lung cancer from radon exposure in Ontario uranium mines, and describes how exposure to radon was determined for the studies that provided the basis for the WSIB policy. A discussion of the historical radon exposure data for Ontario uranium miners is provided followed by a summary of the epidemiological studies on the risk of lung cancer associated with radon exposure in Ontario uranium mines.

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Knowledge Translation

At OHCOW we know the importance of disseminating research and knowledge in a way our audience can best receive and use it. The pandemic accelerated the transition to virtual webinars and away from in-person events. Printed material is mostly distributed over the internet to print out. Our regular podcast series, Oh-Pods, has a consistent audience. 23-24 was a good year for OHCOW's goal of making materials and information easy to access and use.

Subscribers to our Youtube channel increased almost 30% over the course of a year, and more than 38,000 views of webinars and other materials took place.  Our website saw 102,000 users and more than nine thousand pdfs and other materials were downloaded.

Increased Viewership

OHCOW continued with its highly popular webinar series, and saw excellent attendance. The Repetitive Strain Day series broke its previous record and is the most highly attended series in OHCOW's history. Live attendance for the 4  sessions was between 536-822 people. Youtube views increase this number substantially, and the RSI videos continue to be among the highest viewed on the OHCOW channel.

RSI Webinars Youtube PlaylistRepetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Day Webinars

2024 marked the 25th anniversary of RSI Day, and it was also the most successful OHCOW webinar series ever. The event has grown from 20 registrants in a local audience to over 1850 registrants from across 53 countries. The entire RSI Day webinar series event can be viewed through the YouTube channel.

Mayday Mayday 2023/24 Webinar Series Youtube Playlist

Mayday, Mayday!

In conjunction with 2023 Mayday Mayday Webinars, OHCOW  hosted the biannual COPSOQ (Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire) Network meeting in Hamilton on May 11 & 12. This meeting discussed the technicalities of the survey and its use around the world.

Occ-COVID Conversations

Five years later, the world is learning to live with COVID-19. Yet the levels of sick and dying are still a factor. What have we learned? Better air quality and ventilation in public places, work environments, and schools needs attention.  The use of masks is becoming lax. Occ-Covid Conversations 23/24 covered the most important issues post-lockdown.

Occ-Tober Webinar Series Youtube PlaylistOCC-TOBER 2023/24

Occ|tober & Beyond: Occupational Illness and Disease Prevention Webinar Series Collaborating to Reduce and Control Workplace Exposures

Occ-Disease Webinars

Four webinars relating to disease and occupational illness were featured.

OHCOW is pleased with the response to its Occupational Health podcasts, known as OH-Pods, and focus on both ergonomics and Occupational Hygiene. To date 23 OH-Pod sessions have been downloaded a total of 3,941 times.

OH-Pods iconMar 12, 2024

The Dangers of Silica in the Workplace: Silica in the News

Jan 29, 2024

In this episode of the IHSA Safety Podcast, Jasmine Kalsi, IHSA’s Occupational Hygienist, and Shirly Yan, Occupational Hygienist at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), discuss the hazards posed by silica in construction.

The Dangers of Silica in the Workplace

Nov 14, 2023

Paramedics: The Untold Story

Oct 6, 2023

Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Jul 17, 2023

Introduction to Welding with a Focus on Health Effects

May 5, 2023

Our Nurses. Our Future. The Role of the Occupational Health Nurse at OHCOW

Post image for OHCOW's Heat Stress Toolkit

Above is a grouping of resources featured in the Heat Stress Toolkit. It includes pamphlets, infographics, videos calculators and pdf materials in multiple languages.

Some infographics in this series include:

Heat Stress Risk Factors
Heat Stress Symptoms
Heat Stress Warning Signs
Heat Stress Effects
Heat Stress Acclimatization
Heat Stress Response Plan

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Through web and social media, OHCOW has continued to maintain connections with our stakeholders and audience.

Exploring New Design, Functionality and Architecture

A new website design and organization is in the works with consultation from stakeholders. Timeline is the new year 2025. In the meantime, the design and layout of some pages has been reconsidered.

The Foreign Workers' page has an interactive map locating medical clinics available to foreign workers. It is used by employers, health and safety representatives and workers.

The News Hub page has up to date news items featured.

The Apps and Tools page has been redesigned to be easier to navigate and more visually appealling.

OHCOW sends electronic newsletters and bulletins to subscribers every month, promoting our webinars, events and general occupational health news. This year we have increased our subscriber by 15% to 5,614 recipients.

May 2023

June 2023

July 2023

August 2023

September 2023

October 2023

November 2023

December 2023

January 2024

February 2024

March 2024

In the 2023/24 year, OHCOW commemorated 20 different noteable dates such as Parkinsons Awareness Month, Day of Mourning, Workplace Mental Health Day, Rare Diseases Day, World Cancer Day, Black History Month and more. We also posted promotions for webinars and other events such as Spring Into Action. Ads for the OHCOW special project promoting the Silica Control Tool also were featured.

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Spring into Action is a virtual forum presented every year, sponsored/Organized by the Ottawa & District Labour Council and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.  In the 23/24 year it occured on April 14th.

Elder Terry McKay (Welcoming and Land Acknowledgement)
David Chezzi, Sean McKinney, Kimberly O'Connell


Temporary Foreign Workers Eastern Ontario Project
Eduardo Huesca & Leonor Cedillo (OHCOW)

Long COVID- Medical and Worker’s Compensation Implications
Dr. Pravesh Jugnundan (OHCOW),  Margaret Keys (OWA)

BREATHING CLEANER AIR is as important as drinking clean water - what can we do?
Kevin Hedges (OHCOW)


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Now Web-Based, and Available as APPS!

Thumbnail image of the Office Ergonomics Reference Guide web versionThe updated Ergonomics Reference guide now exists as a web-based, live document. It has been changed to reflect difference in office tools (such as multiple monitors and tablets), and working arrangements due to COVID-19 such as temporary workstations.

Office ergonomics is more important now than it has ever been before in our efforts to decrease and/or eliminate musculoskeletal disorders. Many workplaces do not have the financial resources (or time) to correctly train their workers in ergonomics, and specifically to identify and correct office set-up and use challenges.  Building on the popular Office Ergonomics Ergo Reference Guide, the Office Ergonomics e-Learning Course breaks down the key ergonomic principles of workstation components into modules that allow users to progress at their own pace, while learning how to recognize, assess, and control the ergonomic hazards related to computer work wherever it is done.