New Canadian Website Focused on Preventing Occupational Disease

Valerie Wolfe, chair of the Ontario Occupational Disease Action Plan Implementation Team, said occupation disease "is a serious and poorly understood issue in Canada. Incidence numbers are high. Impact is delayed, debilitating, and frequently fatal. This website is a critical step in raising awareness of health risks in the workplace and, most importantly, provides evidence-based knowledge that can drive prevention."

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers collaborated to create a new website, Prevent Occupational Disease, and announced it in mid-February. It is an online repository of current and credible occupational disease resources from Canada and around the world and is intended to help employers, supervisors, safety and health practitioners, and workers increase their understanding of occupational diseases and best practices for preventing them.

Occupational diseases are health conditions (such as cancer or respiratory diseases) that are caused by exposure to hazardous substances or environments in the workplace or as part of work activities. Recognizing and preventing them requires the elimination or reduction of hazardous exposures and control of risks.

The resources provided on the website explain the science and mechanics of prevention; common hazards and their identification, exposure assessment and control; specific occupations and industries where the risk of developing occupational disease is higher; and internationally recognized occupational diseases, including cancer, respiratory and skin diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders. The site will be continually updated with new content and welcomes relevant submissions of free, accessible, non-commercial resources from around the world through its online form, according to the partner organizations.

"The site provides a source for evidence-based information to address the hazards of occupational disease and drive prevention. We appreciate the contributions of our partners working together to address this system priority," said Michael Roche, CEO, of Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers. Valerie Wolfe, regional ED, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and chair of the Ontario Occupational Disease Action Plan Implementation Team, said occupation disease "is a serious and poorly understood issue in Canada. Incidence numbers are high. Impact is delayed, debilitating, and frequently fatal. This website," said added, "is a critical step in raising awareness of health risks in the workplace and, most importantly, provides evidence-based knowledge that can drive prevention."

"Occupational disease is a critical issue in Ontario, and its prevention will be a key pillar in the new Health & Safety Strategy being developed this spring. This website is an excellent step in raising awareness and fostering change by gathering trusted resources and tools in an accessible location to educate and assist workplaces in their prevention efforts. I congratulate OHCOW and their partner, CCOHS, for their leadership in pulling it together," said Ron Kelusky, assistant deputy minister and chief prevention officer with the Ministry of Labour.

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