An occupational disease is a health problem caused by exposure to a workplace health hazard. Your workplace should be healthy for your body and mind. You can help keep yourself and your workplace healthy by being aware of health hazards in your environment.
These workplace health hazards can cause an occupational disease:
- dust, gases, or fumes
- toxic substances (poisons)
- infectious germs or viruses
- extreme hot or cold temperatures
- extremely high or low air pressure
Avoiding workplace health hazards
Here are some steps for avoiding workplace hazards:
- Find out what materials and substances are being used in your workplace.
- Find out how to work safely around the materials and equipment in your workplace. Your supervisor is required to provide you with this information and appropriate training. You can also contact your joint health and safety committee or representative.
- Use protective equipment provided by your employer. Make sure that you know how to use it properly. If you don’t know, ask.
- Be alert to symptoms or changes in your health.
- Tell your doctor where you work, what you do, and what substances you work with.
Reporting an exposure incident
An exposure incident is an unplanned exposure to a chemical, physical or biological hazard from a leak, spill, escape, explosion or direct physical contact.
Workplace health hazards can cause three kinds of reactions in the body:
- Immediate or acute reactions, like shortness of breath or nausea, can be caused by a one-time event, (e.g., a chemical spill). These reactions are not usually permanent.
- Gradual reactions, like asthma or dermatitis (skin rashes), can get worse when you are exposed over days, weeks or months. These reactions tend to last for a longer time.
- Delayed reactions or diseases that take a long time to develop, like lung cancer or loss of hearing, can be caused by long-term exposure to a substance or work activity. These reactions can be noticed long after the job is over.
Program for Exposure Incident Reporting (PEIR)
The Program for Exposure Incident Reporting (PEIR) is a voluntary program for employers and their employees to help when an exposure incident happens. This program lets you keep us informed about workplace exposure incidents. That means if you become ill in the future, we'll be able to process your claim quicker.
For more information, check out the Program for Exposure Incident Reporting brochure (PDF).
Construction Exposure Incident Reporting (CEIR) program
We partnered with the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (CSAO) to develop the Construction Exposure Incident Reporting (CEIR) program. This program is an industry-specific incident reporting program that lets people in the construction sector voluntarily report unexpected exposures to substances or diseases.
For more information, check out the Construction Exposure Incident Reporting Program brochure (PDF).