A medical diagnostic service for workers who may have work-related health problems.
An OHCOW nurse will take detailed notes on your work history, your health and what you have been exposed to at work. The nurse will share this information with the OHCOW doctor, who will then examine you and ask you more questions.
The whole OHCOW team will discuss whether your workplace caused your health problem. They will recommend ways to prevent further problems. If you need to be treated, the OHCOW doctor will send you to your family doctor or other treating physician.
Your medical information is confidential. However, if you give your consent, this information will be shared with the joint health and safety committee at your workplace or with others who are helping with your case. This may help prevent your co-workers from getting sick or injured. It will also help identify whether others are already suffering from the same problem as you.
Examples of Diagnostic Services that OHCOW has Provided:
Claim Accepted For Rubber Worker With Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)
A claim has recently been accepted for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in a rubber worker. The worker had been employed for 27 years at a rubber tire factory. He would have been exposed to organic solvent, particularly benzene, as a by-product of the tire manufacturing process. While no direct measures were available from his plant environment, epidemiology review (Van Ert et al, 1980) allowed for estimation of this worker's historical exposures, in excess of current occupational exposure limits. Further epidemiology was cited on the link between benzene and NHL. The literature included dose-response data; it was shown that this worker's cumulative exposure to benzene placed him at an elevated risk of NHL. In consideration of this information, WSIB allowed entitlement for this worker's cancer.
OHCOW Helps Office Cleaners
An OHCOW doctor saw several office cleaners from the same workplace. They had skin and breathing problems when they used cleaning products. OHCOW's occupational hygienist discovered certain types of cleaning products were causing their problems. OHCOW reported its findings and the employer changed the types of cleaning products it used. The workers' problems were solved.
Workplace Cancer Identified
A printer came to an OHCOW clinic because he had leukemia and wanted to know if it was related to his work. OHCOW's occupational hygienist took a detailed work history. The printer had been exposed to large amounts of the organic solvent toluene every day at work for over 25 years. Sometimes he handled 3600 pounds per day. Until the early 1980's, toluene was often contaminated with benzene, which can cause leukemia.
OHCOW's doctor found that the printer's cancer was caused by his work. Later, the printer received compensation for his disease.
Help For The Self Employed
People who are self employed have work related health problems too. They do not have a joint health and safety committee or workplace experts to help them. They are both the employer and the worker. We help them too.
A self employed potter was sent to an OHCOW clinic by her family doctor because she used cadmium, a heavy metal.
OHCOW's occupational hygienist toured the potter's studio and talked to the potter about her work. The hygienist found that, not only was the potter exposed to cadmium, she was also exposed to dangerous amounts of silica. The hygienist's report suggested safer ways of working including engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation, protective equipment such as a respirator and better housekeeping. An ergonomist showed the potter how to reduce the risk of back, neck and arm injuries in her work.
This potter is also a teacher at a community college. She will share this safety information with her students. OHCOW staff also helped write an article for a national potters' magazine to share this information.