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Occupational Diseases Initiative

The Occupational Diseases Initiative for 2016–2018 uses a risk-based approach to proactively identify, prioritize, and address the occupational diseases of greatest risk to workers across B.C. This three-year plan focuses on three categories of disease and six primary risk exposures:

  • Cancer (asbestos, silica, solar radiation, welding fumes)
  • Asthma (sensitizers)
  • Poisoning (lead)

Goals

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

Approaches

  • 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
  • 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.

Deliverables

Risk area Details
Asbestos Industry awareness
  • Contractor awareness campaign
  • Based on the past work, increase the asbestos focus on younger and newer workers at the secondary, trade school, and technical college levels
Targeted inspections
Silica Industry awareness
  • Update the data applications and advance the usability of the Silica Control Tool with activity exposures not currently covered
  • Promote the new informational resources for the oil and gas industry
  • Regularly send out information and communications directly from WorkSafeBC and through partnerships with Energy Safety Canada and the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA)
Targeted inspections
  • Inspection cycles in the construction and oil and gas sectors
Solar radiation Industry awareness
  • Combined communications activities through partnerships with Sun Safety at Work, CAREX, Canadian Cancer Society, BC Cancer Agency, and other partners
  • Ongoing awareness campaign, including enews, bulletins, journal articles, and events targeted at outdoor and young and new workers, focusing on worker attitudes and practices
  • Promotional activities for national Sun Awareness Week
  • Presentations and meetings with industry associations
Targeted inspections and consultations
  • Officers will visit workplaces in the construction, municipalities, and agriculture industries; focus of visits will be to promote awareness and develop solar radiation and heat stress programs for outdoor workers
Welding fumes Industry awareness
  • Apply and communicate the findings of the completed welding fumes study across industries, which assessed risk exposure levels, welding techniques, equipment set-up, current standards, and existing and required risk controls
  • Promote the new employer resource package to raise industry awareness on exposure and how to reduce the risk when working with welding equipment, including an updated exposure control plan (ECP) template
  • Develop and promote a generic training package and engage associations and trade schools to educate employers as well as young and new workers about risks associated with welding
Targeted inspections
  • Inspection cycles within general and heavy construction subsectors, as well as the metallic and non-metallic mineral products subsector
Sensitizers Industry awareness
  • Promote the new informational resources about epoxy and resins including a video and new exposure control plan (ECP) templates
  • Develop a sensitizer industry and product reference sheet that can be utilized by officers and industry
  • Promote industry awareness about harmful exposure to suppliers, industry associates, employers, and workers using WorkSafeBC and OSHA materials
Targeted inspections
  • Workplaces will be visited by prevention officers to raise awareness
Lead Industry awareness
  • Develop and promote a generic training package and engage associations and trade schools to educate employers as well as young and new workers about risks associated with lead
  • Promote the revised Safe Work Practices for Handling Lead resource
Targeted inspections
  • Inspection cycles in the general and heavy construction subsectors

Updates and results

WorkSafeBC’S High Risk Strategies and Industry Initiatives identify and target industries and employers with a high risk of serious workplace injury and a significant contribution to the serious injury rate. Each strategy focuses prevention initiatives on identified areas of high risk in order to apply resources and effort where they will be most effective. As part of our strategic initiative to develop measures to assess the effectiveness of prevention activities, we are providing updates of our High Risk Strategies and Industry Initiatives.

Note: To save space in bulleted lists, our update documents may refer to occupational health and safety as OHS. All references to the Act, refer to Part Three of the Workers Compensation Act. Penalties and warning letters reported in updates may have been initiated by inspections in a previous quarter.

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