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Occupational Disease Initiative

The Occupational Disease Initiative for 2019-2020 uses a risk-based approach to proactively identify, prioritize, and address the occupational diseases of greatest risk to workers across B.C. This two-year plan focuses on four categories of disease and nine primary risk exposures:

  • Cancer (asbestos, silica, solar radiation, welding fumes, hazardous drugs, diesel exhaust fumes)
  • Asthma (sensitizers)
  • Poisoning (lead)
  • Hearing loss (noise exposure)

In 2020, hearing loss was added as a category of disease with noise exposure as a primary risk exposure. While hearing loss has always been an important and debilitating issue in occupational disease, in recent years it has received more attention due to the number of workers in B.C. exposed to noise. 


Our goals

The goals of the 2019–2020 Occupational Disease Initiative are to:

  • Raise awareness of the risks, hazards, and controls relating to the four targeted categories of occupational disease
  • Reduce workplace exposure to the nine primary risks

Our focus

  • Increase industry awareness at both the industry and job-task level — Workers and employers that fully understand the risks are more likely to take steps to reduce exposure
  • Create officer support tools — Officers that fully understand the risks and have the tools to explain them are better able to help employers and workers reduce exposure. Produce resources for workers and employers to clarify the risks, hazards, and controls that are most relevant to their workplace. This helps employers identify and take responsibility for the risks and manage the hazards present in their workplaces.
  • Conduct targeted inspection programs that focus enforcement activity on the employers with the highest risk exposures — Targeting helps us reach the workers and employers that most need to mitigate the risks

By targeting diseases instead of limiting the scope to risks within specific industries, we are able to partner with external organizations that focus on those same diseases. This will give us a new perspective and allow us to conduct research and communicate across multiple industries where the operations and job activities might differ, but where the same disease outcomes exist.

What you can do

The following webpages include resources that will help you better understand and address some of the health and safety issues to focus on in your industry.