An occupational illness is a health condition or disorder that is caused by the work environment or related activities.
They can be disruptive, disabling and sometimes fatal.

From cancer to heart disease to respiratory issues, illness of many types can be related to our work.

It is important to know the hazards of your job, and take whatever precautions are required to work safely and stay healthy on the job.


Work-related cancer is any cancer that results from exposure to cancer-causing agents* at work.

*also known as carcinogens.

Examples of work-related cancer include:

lung   •   bladder    •   kidney   •   leukemia  •  stomach   •  liver   •   mesothelioma   •   melanoma
as well as many others

Most work-related cancers do not appear until years after exposure to the carcinogen.
Even if you were exposed many years ago, your cancer may still be related to your work.

Learn more about work-related cancers using the following resources:

Is Your Cancer Work-Related?

A 2021 webinar marking World Cancer Day with presentations by Michelle Tew, Masood Ahmed, Kevin Hedges, JP Mrochek and Shirly Yan, covering cancer risks, workplace factors, prevention strategies and how they might relate to you, your family or colleagues.

Is Your Cancer Work-Related?

A brochure that discusses the steps for determining if you cancer is caused by your work, the common types of work-related cancer and their causes, why it is important to report your cancer diagnosis, and what to do if you think your cancer is work-related.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.
It can be related to workplace stress and exposures as well as poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking.

Use the following resources to learn more about the causes, symptoms and prevention of these work-related cardiovascular illnesses:

Shiftwork – Health Effects and Solutions

A presentation by James Miuccio, MSc, CIH, CRSP, OHCOW Occupational Hygienist, that looks at the health effects of shiftwork including its effects on the heart.

Occupational Dust (PM2.5) Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease

A presentation by Andrew Zarnke, OHCOW Occupational Hygienist, that looks at the environmental and occupational factors associated with Cardiovascular disease and occupational dust.

Work-related Heart Disease

A presentation by Sandra Dorman, Phd, Director, Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health.


Respiratory illnesses potentially related to your work include:

Pneumoconiosis*   •   Occupational Asthma  •  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
•   Lung Cancer   •  Mesothelioma  •
as well as others

*Asbestosis, Silicosis, Byssinosis

Use the links above to learn more about specific illnesses or the following resources to learn more about the causes, symptoms and prevention of respiratory illnesses:

Respiratory Hazards

A webinar presented in 2019 by Kimberly O’Connell, CIH, ROH, CRSP,  Kevin Hedges, PhD, COH, CIH and Todd Irick M.Sc, CIH

Selecting Effective Respiratory Protective Equipment for SARS-COVID-19

A 2020 presentation by Simon J. Smith providing an overview of respiratory protection; respiratory types relevant in healthcare; filtration, fit and function; standards for respiratory protection as well as selection and guidance.

Preventing Occupational Disease through the Designated Substance Codes for Exposure Measurement, Respiratory Protection and Medical Surveillance

A submission regarding the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Consultation on Proposed Changes to Ontario Regulation 490/09 – Designated Substances and the Requirements for Medical Surveillance, Respiratory Protection and Measuring