Research summary - Exploring potential occupational monitoring  initiatives

Official title: Exploring Potential Occupational Monitoring Initiatives for Workers under Federal Jurisdiction

Author of report: Dr. Paul Demers (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)

Why this study

One of the goals of the Canada Labour Code is to prevent work injuries and illnesses for federally regulated workers. To do so, it is important to know the relationship between workplace hazards and illnesses.

Governments and employers need this information to detect risks early and control them in a timely way.

However, in reality, many work-related illnesses are not easy to diagnose. Therefore, people often do not fully report work-related illnesses. The main reason is that we do not have enough data to measure the impact of workplace hazards on workers' health.

This project studies:

  • what leads to the lack of data in this area, and
  • how to fill this data gap in tracking occupational illnesses

What we did

The report studies the current monitoring initiatives in Canadian provinces and other countries. The purpose is to see if any of those initiatives can be suitable for use in the federal jurisdiction.

The report then shows the strengths and gaps of the government's ability to track work-related illnesses and exposures for workers.

Finally, the report suggests a number of actions to fill the identified gaps on occupational illnesses. These include ways to improve the existing data capacity and to increase data collection.

What we found

The study shows a number of challenges in tracking work-related illnesses under the federal jurisdiction. These include:

  • work-related illnesses in general have several causes, including long-term exposure, making it difficult to link an illness to a specific job and workplace
  • information on workplace exposures is often not known or difficult to get
  • both workers and doctors may not fully understand relationships between illnesses and jobs. As a result, they often do not realize workers fall sick because of their work environment
  • the Canadian federal jurisdiction includes workers of various industries located across the country. Therefore, it often needs large data samples to represent all sectors
  • to use the data already collected by local organizations, we need to set up partnerships with related local organizations. The purpose will be to share and link the data together to give a complete picture for the federal jurisdiction

The report also recommends the following actions to overcome the above challenges:

  • pilot data mining projects to discover useful workplace exposure information from data and documents already collected
  • conduct exposure assessment projects to re-evaluate sectors flagged with high levels of exposures in the past
  • consider changes to improve reporting provisions and tools to collect workplace exposure data
  • partner with universities and data warehouses to fill data and knowledge gaps

What it means

The report shows what the government can do to find missing data on workplace hazards. This will help guide policies and actions to protect the health of federally regulated workers.

Contact us

Labour Program, Workplace Directorate, Performance, Analysis, Research and Learning Division


Page details

Date modified: