An OHCOW Cluster Project
Rubber Workers Project
The Rubber Workers Project seeks to investigate the cause of cancer clusters that have occurred in workers employed in the rubber industry
in the Kitchener, Waterloo, and surrounding area.
OHCOW Hamilton has worked with United Steelworkers (USW) Local 677, the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) as well as the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) since 2002 to provide information and objective hygiene and medical assessments to workers from the rubber industry in Kitchener where more than 6000 workers were employed in tire fabrication plants owned by:
BF Goodrich • Epton Industries • Uniroyal • Michelin
before the last plant closed in 2010.
Workers in the rubber-manufacturing industry are exposed to dusts and fumes from the rubber-making and vulcanization processes.
Potential exposures include:
N-nitrosamines • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons • solvents • phthalates
Inhalation is the main route of exposure, although workers may have dermal exposure as well (e.g. to cyclohexane-soluble compounds).
As a result of renewed activism by members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) Chapter 80, WSIB committed to review approximately 300 previously denied occupational disease claims using updated scientific information, including 2012 industry findings by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in late 2018.
In 2019/20 OHCOW continued to follow up on these cases, and provided occupational hygiene and medical assessments of possible work-relatedness for any rejected claims where additional information or research had bearing.
We have also:
...hired an epidemiologist to search, sort and quality assess all recent research on health effects experienced in the rubber industry to support and streamline our medical scientific report writing.
...begun a project to develop an industry job exposure matrix, extracting data from case files, union health and safety records and MOL industry history.
...connected with researchers from the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) to look for parallels in a large historical dataset they manage (the ODSS) and similar industries.
Our work with the rubber workers continues, with areas of focus including investigations into:
Prostate and Bladder Cancer • Leukemia • Malignant Lymphoma*
• Stomach and Oesophagus Cancers • Larynx and Lung Cancers
*including multiple myeloma and other lymphopoietic cancers
In partnership with USW and the OWA, OHCOW then organized a two-day information session in Kitchener in the spring of 2019, with the WSIB in attendance, to allow workers and families to file claims or obtain updates on established claims. This event and subsequent communication generated 185 files, including more than 120 cancer cases.
OHCOW, and USW/SOAR have compiled a team of occupational disease experts to assist former rubber workers (including both those who have previously filed claims and those who have not yet filed claims) with medical scientific evidence to determine if their health conditions are work related.
Many of the claims are for workers diagnosed with cancers as well as other illnesses as a result of workplace exposures.
Retrospective retiree focus groups are planned to fill in exposure knowledge gaps.
- WSIB claim number
- Name of the person the WSIB claim is about
- Have you been contacted by the WSIB?
- Have you received a decision letter? (please provide us a copy if possible)
- Was your claim accepted or denied?
- Did the WSIB say they will review your claim again in the future?
- Do you have a legal representative and, if so, their name, organization and phone number
If you have information that may assist us with our study, and you did not attend one of our earlier intake sessions, please contact us.
Need Legal Assistance?
If you do not have a representative and need legal help to meet the time limit to appeal a negative decision, to contact the WSIB because you are not sure what is happening with a claim or to find a legal representative to prepare for an appeal hearing, you can contact Jim Pasel of the USW Injured Workers Assistance Program at 1 877 836 9291 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a very large project, and it will take time for OHCOW to work through all the files.
Please keep us up-to-date on what is happening with your WSIB claim.
Feel free to contact us at 1 888 596 3800 or by email at email@example.com if you have any questions about the status of your file with us.
The following videos/articles are relevant to this study: