Occupational disease focus of research

Ontario is providing $2.7 million to support research projects that will help reduce workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The province is supporting 13 research projects related to occupational disease (five projects), vulnerable workers (four) and high-hazard activities (four) through the Research Opportunities Program.

When it comes to occupational disease, researchers are interested in whether exposure to silica, diesel and gasoline engine exhausts increase the risk of developing kidney cancer in men, as well as the impact of the inhalation and skin exposure of e-waste recycling workers to flame retardant chemicals.

Vulnerable workers were also a key focus. For young workers, researchers are hoping to identify and address the psychological and social forces that increase the risk of injury among this group. Additionally, the University of Ottawa will attempt to define age-specific heat exposure limits for workers.

Activities that are considered “high hazard” made up the final category. One project will look at line-of-sight perceptions and reversing technologies to increase situational awareness in the construction industry and another will examine the frequency of injury among community-based personal support workers.

Mining emerged as an area of focus across categories. Cancer Care Ontario received funding for two projects for the industry: One that will look at the relationship between employment in mining and both lung cancer and respiratory diseases; and the other will study occupational exposure to carcinogens in three priority sectors within the industry.

Another project will evaluate the impact of simulator training for improving mining safety outcomes. The research will determine whether demographics like age, gender, previous training or work experience have any bearing on how trainees respond to simulator training and how well the training transfers to real-world performance on occupational health and safety-related measures.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of COS.