Occupational Hygiene

Occupational HygieneWhat is occupational hygiene?

Cancers, severe allergic reactions, nervous system impairment and noise-induced hearing loss are just some of the diseases that impact the lives of many Ontario workers and their families each year. These diseases are caused by many workplace health hazards including

  • Chemicals such as solvents, asbestos, carbon monoxide, silica
  • Physical agents such as noise, radiation and excessive heat
  • Biological hazards such as moulds and bacteria

Occupational Hygiene is a science devoted to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling these health hazards and helps workers avoid sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort.

What the law says

Ontario has legislation that governs workplace exposure to chemical, physical and biological health hazards. The legislation includes:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Designated Substances Regulation (Ontario Regulation 490/09)
  • Regulation for Control of Exposure to Biological and Chemical Agents (Ontario Regulation 833)

How occupational hygiene can help your business

Businesses benefit from identifying and controlling health hazards in the workplace as:

  • Addressing health hazards in the workplace can demonstrate compliance with the law and minimize work stoppages, as well as Ministry of Labour fines or orders
  • Healthy workers require fewer days off to cope with illness
  • Healthy workers are generally more productive while at work
  • Controlling health hazards reduces costs for workers’ compensation

What can you do?

  • Include occupational health as part of your company’s overall health and safety policy and program.
  • Identify and create a list or inventory of health hazards in your workplace. Great sources of information include
    • workers and supervisors
    • the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representatives
    • WSIB data
    • Health & Safety Ontario
    • other companies in your industry
    • an Occupational Hygienist.
  • Know the legislation that applies to your workplace and comply with the requirements
  • Consult your joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative to find ways to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure
    • Eliminate the hazard or select a healthier option. For example, purchasing quieter equipment could be less expensive than the alternative of purchasing hearing protectors, training workers, and dealing with communication problems in the workplace
    • Use controls that stop exposure along the path such as ventilation, barriers or enclosures
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used as a last resort.
  • Train workers to understand the health hazards in your workplace and how to properly protect themselves
  • Ensure that your monthly workplace inspections include looking for health hazards
  • Review your program and procedures on a regular basis or whenever circumstances change to ensure new health hazards are identified and controlled.

Downloads

Carbon Monoxide in the Workplace

Carbon Monoxide in the Workplace

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a leading cause of chemical poisoning in both the workplace and the home.  This guide will provide basic information about carbon monoxide, its hazards, detection and control.
993 KB pdf
General Awareness of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

General Awareness of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

Occupational skin disease fact sheet providing general awareness recommendations. This document is part of a suite consisting of 3 fact sheets. The purpose is to provide high level occupational skin disease overview and education.
166 KB PDF
Hearing Conservation

Hearing Conservation

Once damaged, hearing cannot be restored.  Damaged hearing can affect job performance, health and productivity.
178 KB pdf
Influenzas and the Pandemic Threat

Influenzas and the Pandemic Threat

FAQ questions-human influenza, predictions, precautions, planning, travel issue.
339 KB pdf
Occupational Asthma: Automotive Parts Manufacturing and Foam and Expanded Plastics Industries

Occupational Asthma: Automotive Parts Manufacturing and Foam and Expanded Plastics Industries

Asthma is a common lung disease that makes breathing difficult.  When it is caused by breathing in hazardous substances in the workplace, it is "occupational asthma".  If you work in automotive parts, manufacturing, or in the foam or expanded plastic industry, you are at risk for getting occupational asthma.
247 KB pdf
Occupational Dermatitis

Occupational Dermatitis

Occupational dermatitis is a non-infectious disease caused by skin contact with substances used at work. Depending on the types of substances present, dermatitis may take two forms: (a) allergic contact dermatitis or (b) irritant contact dermatitis. Find out how you can reduce your risk for this common and potentially serious problem.
242 KB 
Occupational Skin Disease (Dermatitis) Awareness Posters for the Hair and Nail Salon Sector

Occupational Skin Disease (Dermatitis) Awareness Posters for the Hair and Nail Salon Sector

This is a collection or a suite of 7 workplaces posters, customized for the 'hair and nail salon' industry. Each of the seven posters focuses on occupational skin disease awareness and prevention practices. Key messages are: avoid hazards, know the risks, use proper personal protective equipment, keep your skin clean, ask questions and immediately seek medical attention if concerns arise.
9000 KB PDF
Occupational Skin Disease (Dermatitis) Awareness Posters for the Vehicle Sales and Service Sector

Occupational Skin Disease (Dermatitis) Awareness Posters for the Vehicle Sales and Service Sector

This is a series or suite of 7 workplaces posters, specific to the Vehicle Sales and Service sector, which focuses on occupational skin disease awareness and preventions. Key messages are: avoid hazards, use proper personal protective equipment, follow proper skin cleansing practices, and seek medical attention immediately when concerns arise.
877 KB PDF
Prevention of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

Prevention of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

Occupational skin disease fact sheet  focusing on prevention. This document is part of a suite consisting of 3 fact sheets.  The purpose is to provide high level occupational skin disease overview and education.
196 KB PDF
Pumping Out Sewage

Pumping Out Sewage

Pumping sewage from boats may expose you to infectious agents including contaminated water.  This guideline helps identify the hazards and provides safe work guidelines.
225 KB pdf
Recognition of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

Recognition of Occupational Skin Disease (Fact Sheet)

Occupational skin disease fact sheet focusing on recognition of the disease. This document is part of a suite consisting of 3 fact sheets.  The purpose is to provide high level occupational skin disease overview and education.
171 KB PDF
Safety Check: Dish Washing Safety

Safety Check: Dish Washing Safety

Dish washing safety tips for workers.
488 KB PDF
Safety Check: Mopping Spills Safety

Safety Check: Mopping Spills Safety

Mopping spills safety tips for workers.
481 KB PDF
Safety Check: Welding Safety

Safety Check: Welding Safety

Welding safety tips for workers.
483 KB PDF
Silica in the Workplace

Silica in the Workplace

The purpose of this guide is to provide general information about silica to employees, members of joint health and safety committees, supervisors, and managers.  The guide outlines uses and health effects of silica, and provides guidelines for setting up a program to determine and control workplace exposures.
448 KB pdf
Spray Painting

Spray Painting

There are many hazards associated with spray painting.  This guideline helps you understand those hazards and offers safe work guidelines to help minimalize or eliminate their risk.
247 KB pdf
Work-Related Asthma and You: Hair, Nail and Beauty Salons

Work-Related Asthma and You: Hair, Nail and Beauty Salons

Asthmas is work-related when it is caused or made worse by a substance that a person comes in contact with at work.  Anyone working in a beauty, hair or nail salon may be at risk for work-related asthmas, depending on what chemicals are used in the workplace. 
1000 KB pdf
Work-Related Asthma Recognition and Prevention: Metals and Metal-Working Fluids

Work-Related Asthma Recognition and Prevention: Metals and Metal-Working Fluids

Metal-working fluids are complex mixtures of ingredients that are used to cool and lubricate metal work pieces.  They create mists as they pass over the work piece.  When workers inhale these mists, those who have work-related asthma may find their condition worsens.  For other workers, occupational asthma may develop.
242 KB pdf
Work-Related Asthma: Asthma Plan of Action for Hair, Nail and Beauty Salons

Work-Related Asthma: Asthma Plan of Action for Hair, Nail and Beauty Salons

The WSIB claims that hairdressers are more likely to get occupational asthma than many other workers.  If recognized early, work-related asthma can be treated and managed.  This booklet describes work-related asthma, the risks to this industry group, chemicals that may cause the disease, how to recognize work-related asthma and things you can do to manage your exposure.
3000 KB pdf
Work-Related Asthma: Preventing Work-Related Asthma in the Cleaning Industry

Work-Related Asthma: Preventing Work-Related Asthma in the Cleaning Industry

Developed in cooperation with the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc., this booklet is designed to help employers and joint health and safety committees to recognize work-related asthma, put into place general strategies to help prevent work-related asthma and to know when, where and how to get professional help.
598 KB pdf

Consulting Services

General Consulting Services

General Consulting Services

Integrating health and safety into your workplace is good business.  WSPS’ consultants employ a results-based approach to health, safety and environment, focused on building self-reliance,  and enabling your organization to implement, manage and continually improve your health and safety programs.

Occupational Hygiene

Occupational Hygiene

 WSPS can provide occupational hygiene services including airborne chemical, physical and biological agent exposure assessments, and indoor air quality exposure assessments. The credentials of our occupational hygienists include Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), recognized worldwide, Registered Occupational Hygienist (ROH), the Canada-wide designation in occupational hygiene, and Professional Engineer (P.Eng).

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS is the largest Safety Group provider and one of the longest running sponsors in the province. With our extensive experience and proven track record, by working with us and other member firms participating firms can achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Training

Noise Control & Hearing Conservation

Noise Control & Hearing Conservation

Noise Control & Hearing Conservation is a half-day (3 hour) course to help participants understand legal requirements regarding workplace noise.
View Details 
Call for pricing

E-Courses

Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction (English) (1 hour)

Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction (English) (1 hour)

The course provides practical advice on how to investigate and respond to indoor air problems.
View Details 
$49.00

Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction (French) (1 hour)

Indoor Air Quality: An Introduction (French) (1 hour)

The course provides practical advice on how to investigate and respond to indoor air problems.
View Details 
$49.00

Preventing Hearing Loss from Workplace Noise (English) (1 hour)

Preventing Hearing Loss from Workplace Noise (English) (1 hour)

The main focus of this course is hearing loss prevention and the ways to eliminate or reduce noise exposure.
View Details 
$49.00

Preventing Hearing Loss from Workplace Noise (French) (1 hour)

Preventing Hearing Loss from Workplace Noise (French) (1 hour)

The main focus of this course is hearing loss prevention and the ways to eliminate or reduce noise exposure.
View Details 
$49.00

Articles

How to protect workers from occupational cancers

How to protect workers from occupational cancers

A new study quantifying the number of cancers resulting from workplace chemical exposure in Ontario is a wake-up call for employers across all industries. "We now have a picture of how big the problem of workplace cancer is in Ontario and it's clear there's work to be done," says WSPS Occupational Hygiene Consultant Craig Fairclough.
Nov 15, 2017
12 questions to help you prepare for this fall’s chemical handling blitz

12 questions to help you prepare for this fall’s chemical handling blitz

From September 19 to October 31, Ministry of Labour inspectors will fan out across the province, visiting workplaces to check records, observe, and ask questions about their chemical handling practices.

Jul 29, 2016
Ontario's New WHMIS regulation: 2 key changes, plus implementation tips

Ontario's New WHMIS regulation: 2 key changes, plus implementation tips

As of July 1, Ontario moved one step closer to full alignment with WHMIS 2015, the new national standard for classifying, labelling and communicating information about hazardous products in the workplace. This was the day on which amendments to Ontario's WHMIS Regulation came into force - amendments that affect your workplace. We can help you understand the changes and start complying.

Jul 29, 2016
Integrating occupational hygiene into your H&S program: a success story

Integrating occupational hygiene into your H&S program: a success story

Like most workplaces, THK Rhythm Automotive Canada doesn't have or need in-house expertise to assess worker exposure to chemical, physical or biological agents. The task requires rigorous scientific methodology, best left to specialists like WSPS occupational hygienist Ilma Bhunnoo.

Jun 07, 2016
Can your respirator program accommodate hipster beards and other physical changes?

Can your respirator program accommodate hipster beards and other physical changes?

The term "fashion victim" takes on new meaning when the trendy full beards hipsters are sporting start interfering with respirator face seals. Wagish Yajaman, occupational hygienist and supervisor of WSPS' Technical Services, sees this firsthand in workplaces he visits.

Apr 04, 2016
A 4-point compliance strategy for Ontario's new noise regulation

A 4-point compliance strategy for Ontario's new noise regulation

A new noise regulation taking effect July 1 will help workplaces better protect employees from the debilitating effects of noise-induced hearing loss. It's more prevalent than you may think. Noise-induced hearing loss claims in Ontario exceed $50 million a year.
Feb 10, 2016
Create your own skin disease posters with WSPS' online poster designer

Create your own skin disease posters with WSPS' online poster designer

A new interactive online program on WSPS' website allows workplaces to customize and download up to seven different posters on occupational skin disease, including dermatitis. Each poster combines a photo of a recognizable workplace situation with action-oriented prevention practices written in simple language. You can print the standard letter-sized posters as is, or adapt them to suit specific needs.

Jul 14, 2015
Lung transplant cases cause for alarm over workplace toxins: 7 steps to protect workers

Lung transplant cases cause for alarm over workplace toxins: 7 steps to protect workers

A series of disturbing research results highlights the need for vigilance in preventing workplace exposure to toxics substances. Last month, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued an alert on exposure to silica1. The alert was triggered by reports of silicosis among 45 workers who make or install stone countertops. Ten required lung transplants.

Mar 06, 2015
Meet new WHMIS / GHS compliance deadlines with these 6 steps

Meet new WHMIS / GHS compliance deadlines with these 6 steps

Manufacturers, importers and distributors of hazardous products now have a series of deadlines for complying with changes to Canada's Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) that have been in the works for years. These deadlines, published in a February issue of the Canada Gazette Part II, also apply to federally regulated employers. Employers under provincial and territorial jurisdiction can likely expect the same or slightly staggered deadlines.

Mar 06, 2015
Can your shop towels be contaminating workers?

Can your shop towels be contaminating workers?

Shop towels could be exposing people to heavy metals even after they’ve been laundered, reports a study published in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal.

"This serves as an eye-opener," says Wagish Yajaman, a technical specialist at Workplace Safety & Prevention Services. "Exposure to hazardous substances is a bigger issue than people realize."

Jan 10, 2014

Videos

Non-Smoking Worksites in the Construction Sector

Non-Smoking Worksites in the Construction Sector

The prevalence of tobacco use among construction workers is examined from a health, safety and economic perspective. Unique challenges include construction's fast-changing and varied worksites; the difficulty of imposing smoking bans in a blue collar setting versus white collar environments; chronic diseases related to smoking that can be hastened by exposure to workplace chemicals, fumes, dusts, etc.

Jan 26, 2012
Occupational Cancer Research

Occupational Cancer Research

The Occupational Cancer Research Centre is the only research unit in Canada focused on workplace cancer.  It is jointly funded by Cancer Care Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and the Ontario Division of the Canadian Cancer Society. 
CAREX Canada is a national workplace and environmental carcinogen surveillance project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

Presented by Paul Demers, Director of the OCRC and the Scientific Director of CAREX Canada.

Jan 27, 2012
Occupational Skin Disease

Occupational Skin Disease

The Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD) - Dr. Linn Holness

The session focused on current CREOD knowledge translation (KT) of research efforts related to occupational skin disease.

Jun 10, 2011