Services and
Referrals

Collage showing a variety of services offered by OHCOW

OUR AIM

To protect workers and their communities from
occupational disease, injuries and illnesses.

OUR GOAL

To accomplish this by identifying workplace factors
that damage the health and welfare of all workers.

OHCOW Services

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Information/Inquiry Services

An information/inquiry service to answer your workplace health and safety questions

Ergonomic
Assessments

A service to help workers and workplaces identify, evaluate and reduce/eliminate ergonomic hazards

 

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Medical Diagnostic Services

A medical diagnostic service for workers who may have work-related health problems

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Group
Services

A group service for joint health and safety committees and groups of workers

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Outreach and
Education Services

An outreach and education service to make people aware of health and safety issues

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Research
Services

A research service to investigate and report on illnesses and injuries

Each type of service is described in greater detail below.
Examples of OHCOW accomplishments in each area are also provided.

INFORMATION / INQUIRY SERVICES

Icon showing two speech bubbles indicating a question being asked and an answer being provided

An information/inquiry service to answer workplace health and safety questions

OHCOW staff will answer your questions about workplace health and safety issues. We will provide you with information about:

  • the substances you work with
  • common diseases in your industry
  • ways to reduce or eliminate the hazards you face
  • the latest medical and scientific articles

The OHCOW team can do a walkthrough tour of the workplace. They will point out any health and safety problems and present them to the joint health and safety committee. They can also suggest that someone investigate the problems further.


The following is an example of an Information/Inquiry Service provided by OHCOW:

Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace is often not recognized and not reported.

Some group home workers wanted to know which residents might get violent with them. Normally this information would be confidential and the workers would not be told which residents had a history of violence. The workers saw this as a health and safety issue and asked OHCOW for help. In this case, the group home workers’ need for a safe workplace seemed to conflict with the residents’ rights to confidentiality.

OHCOW gave the workers information about:

  • violence in the workplace
  • client confidentiality
  • policies from other workplaces

The workers then contacted the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry issued an order to the employer and the employer developed a workplace violence program. The program includes teaching workers to manage and prevent violence. It also includes information about when certain residents may become aggressive.

OHCOW then held a workshop for other people interested in workplace violence, so that this experience could be used in other workplaces.

ERGONOMIC ASSESSMENTS

Need a description of the Ergonomic assessment service as well as some case study examples.

MEDICAL DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES

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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.


The following are examples of Medical 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.

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GROUP SERVICES

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A group service for joint health and safety committees and groups of workers.

The OHCOW team can do a walkthrough tour of the workplace. They will point out any health and safety problems and present them to the joint health and safety committee. They can also suggest that someone investigate the problems further. During a walkthrough tour, the OHCOW occupational hygienist will watch how the work is done question workers about their symptoms take limited measurements (for example, noise and air flow) make recommendations to improve workplace conditions.

The occupational hygienist will help you understand occupational hygiene sampling reports. They can also help you design sampling strategies.

During a walkthrough tour, an OHCOW ergonomist will watch how the work is done interview workers to understand their concerns and their discomfort measure the dimensions, forces, repetitions and postures of a workstation make recommendations to improve conditions In some cases, doctors and nurses can do medical exams on several people from one workplace. They will look for a connection between the health problems and the workplace conditions.

OHCOW staff can work with the joint health and safety committee to help it understand very technical reports it must deal with. The OHCOW team can also design health questionnaires and administer surveys.

Click here for more information on Advocate Referral, Health Professional Referral, Self Referral and Joint Health and Safety Committee

The following are examples of Group Services that OHCOW has provided:

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries

A repetitive strain injury is an injury that happens because you repeat the same type of movement over and over again at your job. This type of injury is very common now because so many people use computers.

Workers at a public library came to OHCOW for help because the new equipment at their workplace seemed to be causing injuries.

OHCOW’s ergonomist assessed the conditions at the library. Then the ergonomist held a workshop for workers from every branch of the library.

Because of the ergonomist’s report, managers changed the way the library work was done. They also bought proper chairs, footrests and adjustable arms for the computer monitors to make the work safer. When a new library was built, they used OHCOW’s report to design a safer workplace. The library workers now understand how to avoid repetitive strain injuries.

Most important, in the first year after these changes were made, no workers lost time from work because of new repetitive strain injuries.


Improved Ventilation In A Copper Refinery

Workers in a copper refinery were concerned about the quality of the air in their workplace and their fatigue. They came to OHCOW for help. Workers and managers formed a committee to look at these concerns. OHCOW’s occupational hygienist worked with the committee and gave advice about how to assess ventilation chemical hazards physical hazards The employer used the results of the ventilation assessment to prevent future problems with the ventilation system. The employer trained certain workers and managers to monitor the ventilation system on an ongoing basis to prevent future problems.

OHCOW also helped identify problems with workers being exposed to magnetic fields and heat stress. As a result, the employer developed better policies and put them to work.

OUTREACH and EDUCATION SERVICES

An outreach and education service to make people aware of health and safety issues.

OHCOW staff will speak to your group about health and safety issues. Our goal is to make you aware of health hazards in your workplace so you can avoid illness or injury. We also want to make you aware of all of OHCOW’s services in case you need them. Sometimes we work together with community groups or with other health and safety groups to promote safe workplaces. OHCOW also helps to educate doctors, medical students, nurses and nursing students so they are more aware of workplace health issues.

RESEARCH SERVICES

A research service to investigate and report on illnesses and injuries

OHCOW is, and has been involved in, research studies on several different topics. We collect information on different diseases and on the substances workers are exposed to that may cause these diseases. We research for the latest scientific literature on your question. We use this information to write a report that will assist with your situation either as a patient or a workplace representative.

OHCOW is a not-for-profit clinic, funded by the Prevention Office of the Ministry of Labour.
There is no charge for our services.

To begin the referral process, please contact the clinic nearest you or use the form below.

Referral Services

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Advocate Referrals

OHCOW’s interdisciplinary team investigates and provides an opinion regarding whether or not a health problem is work-related. This can involve giving a medical, occupational hygiene or ergonomic report relating to a WSIB claim.

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Health Professional Referrals

If your patient has an injury or disease that you/they believe is work-related, you can refer them to the OHCOW clinic nearest you for an assessment.

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Self-Referrals

If you have an injury or disease that you believe is related to your work, you can contact the OHCOW clinic nearest you for assistance.

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Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Referrals

From workplace tours to surveys, OHCOW responds to requests from Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs), Health and Safety Representatives, Unions, Employers and Communities.

Each type of service is described in greater detail below.

ADVOCATE REFERRALS


Advocate Referrals

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) is a clinic system whose mission is to prevent occupational illnesses and injuries and to promote the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers. While OHCOW does not provide treatment, OHCOW’s interdisciplinary team investigates and provides an opinion regarding whether or not a health problem is work-related. This can involve giving a medical, occupational hygiene or ergonomic report relating to a WSIB claim.

To refer a worker to OHCOW, please use our Advocate Referral Form  and fill in the necessary information as indicated on the form, sign where necessary, and return to OHCOW with the full copy of the WSIB file.

Please note that OHCOW does not address the following issues:

  • Acute treatment or ongoing medical care
  • Non work-related health problems
  • Fitness for work or modified work determinations
  • Musculoskeletal problems from more than 10 years ago
  • Pre-1990, FEL or NEL level of disability appeals or re-assessments
  • WSIB case management
  • Disability Claims (i.e. CPP, STD, LTD, EI, ODSP)

HEALTH PROFESSIONAL REFERRALS


Health Professional Referrals

If your patient has an injury or disease that you/they believe is work-related, you can refer them to the OHCOW clinic nearest you for an assessment. Our interdisciplinary team of occupational physicians, occupational nurses, ergonomists, industrial hygienists and client service coordinators will investigate their condition and provide an opinion regarding whether or not their health problem is work-related.

Please note that OHCOW does not address the following issues:

  • Acute treatment or ongoing medical care
  • Non work-related health problems
  • Fitness for work or modified work determinations
  • Musculoskeletal problems from more than 10 years ago
  • Pre-1990, FEL or NEL level of disability appeals or re-assessments
  • WSIB case management
  • Disability Claims (i.e. CPP, STD, LTD, EI, ODSP)

SELF-REFERRALS

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Self-Referral

If you have an injury or disease that you believe is related to your work, you can contact the OHCOW clinic nearest you. Our inter-disciplinary team of occupational physicians, occupational nurses, ergonomists, industrial hygienists and client service coordinators will investigate your condition and provide an opinion regarding whether or not your health problem is work-related.

Please note that OHCOW does not address the following issues:

  • Acute treatment or ongoing medical care
  • Non work-related health problems
  • Fitness for work or modified work determinations
  • Musculoskeletal problems from more than 10 years ago
  • Pre-1990, FEL or NEL level of disability appeals or reassessments
  • WSIB case management
  • Disability Claims (i.e. CPP, STD, LTD, EI, ODSP)

You can refer yourself to OHCOW. Family doctor referral is not required.

JOINT HEALTH and SAFETY COMMITTEE (JHSC) REFERRALS


Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)

The mission of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW) is to prevent occupational illness and injuries, and to promote the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of all workers. OHCOW responds to requests from Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs), Health and Safety Representatives, Unions, Employers and Communities.

OHCOW’s interdisciplinary team can perform walkthrough tours of the workplace at which time they will observe how the work is being done; speak with workers to understand their concerns and symptoms; and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate exposures in the workplace.

In some cases, OHCOW can assess several workers from one workplace. They will look for a connection between the health problems and the workplace conditions.

OHCOW staff can work with the joint health and safety committee to help it understand very technical reports it must deal with. The OHCOW team can also design health questionnaires and assist with the administration of surveys.

 

JHSC Services Offered

Presentations

Presentations on the role of OHCOW in the occupational health & safety system as well as methods and tools OHCOW has developed in addressing occupational health & safety needs.

Workplace Tour

OHCOW interdisciplinary team can perform walkthrough tours of the workplace at which time they can observe the work flow and processes are being done; speak with workers to understand their concerns and symptoms; and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate exposures in the workplace.

Education

Occupational health promotion for groups of workers regarding specific exposures and their impact on health. Assist the JHSC to help it understand very technical reports it must deal with and help design sampling strategies. Customized presentations based on your needs (eg. work related asthma, office ergonomics, etc).

Survey

The use of occupational health surveys in which symptoms and exposure relationships are investigated. The OHCOW team can also design health questionnaires and assist with the administration and analysis of surveys.

Groups of Workers

In some cases, OHCOW can assess several workers from one workplace. They will look for a connection between the health problems and the workplace exposures.

Community Outreach 

Targeting vulnerable and under-serviced populations and their respective organizations (immigrants, temporary workers, women). Informing public health institutions, community health centres, etc. re: occupational health issues.

OHCOW is a not-for-profit clinic, funded by the Prevention Office of the Ministry of Labour.
There is no charge for our services.

To begin the referral process, please contact the clinic nearest you.

OHCOW Clinics

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers are dedicated to the identification and prevention of work-related illnesses.
At the core of each clinic is a dedicated staff trained in occupational medicine, who are available to provide medical examinations
for a full range of work-related illnesses.

The clinics are open to anyone with a possible occupational health problem.

CLINIC DETAILS >

CONTACT OHCOW

Call us toll-free at
1-877-817-0336

…or use the form below to contact OHCOW online.
An OHCOW representative will get back to you within 48 business hours.

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