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Occupational Health Hazards by Industry

The impact of occupational disease in Ontario has been devastating for many workers, their families, friends, and employers. While the impact of traumatic injuries, such as falls or electrical contacts, are usually immediate, occupational disease symptoms don't often show themselves until many months, years, or even decades after exposure to health hazards.

Now is the time to take action against exposure to health hazards to prevent occupational illness in the future.

The following are just some of the health hazards that may be present in your workplace.

Construction & Aggregates

Location, materials, or tasks
Hazard
Major diseases
Drilling, cutting, grinding, chipping, shoveling, sweeping, excavating, crushing, drying, sanding, or screening silica-containing materials such as sandstone, granite, gravel, sand, drywall; or abrasive blasting
Silica
Silicosis; lung cancer
Diesel- or gasoline-powered engines
Exhaust fumes
May increase risk of lung cancer
Sprayed-on fireproofing, pipe and boiler insulation, asbestos cement products, acoustical plaster, vinyl tiles, gaskets, roofing felts, drywall joint-filling compound, coatings, and mastics
Asbestos
Mesothelioma; lung cancer; asbestosis
Heavy equipment, explosive-actuated tools, grinders, chainsaws, abrasive blasting, chipping guns, compressors; general work environment, etc.
Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss; tinnitus
Propane heaters, circular saws, compressors, scissor lifts, cement mixers, and any gasoline-, propane-, or diesel-powered equipment
Carbon monoxide
Drowsiness, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, and death
Removal or burning of lead-based paint, coatings, mortar, and sheet metal, or anywhere lead was previously used
Lead
Nervous system effects, impaired male reproduction, impaired pregnancy outcomes, kidney disease, and possibly cancer
Applying spray-foam insulation
Isocyanates
Respiratory sensitization that can result in asthma
Installation or removal of refractory ceramic fibers
Refractory ceramic fibres
Evidence of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and lung fibrosis in animals at very high doses
Welding and flame-cutting
Metal fumes (lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, zinc); gases (oxides of nitrogen, ozone, phosgene, and asphyxiants)
Ranges from irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat to nervous system effects and cancer
Working with wet cement and concrete, epoxy resins and hardeners, plants, asphalt fumes, coal tar pitch, and solvents
Various chemicals
Dermatitis (allergic or irritant reaction to chemicals that contact the skin)
Extreme temperature conditions
Heat stress and cold stress
Heat stroke; frostbite, hypothermia

Transportation, Ready-Mix Concrete, & Warehousing

Location, materials, or tasks
Hazard
Major diseases
Temperature extremes from working outdoors or in temperature-controlled environments (e.g., freezers)
Heat stress and cold stress
Heat stroke; frost bite, hypothermia
Working around loud equipment or machinery, vehicle engines, or open windows in cabs; loading and unloading operations; power tools in shops; chipping dried concrete from mixer drums
Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss; tinnitus
Diesel- or gasoline-powered engines
Exhaust fumes
May increase risk of lung cancer
Diesel-, gasoline-, or propane powered engines
Carbon monoxide
Drowsiness, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, and death
Maintenance shops
Adhesives, brake fluids, epoxy resins, gasoline, oils
Dermatitis (irritant and allergic)
Welding, flame-cutting, and brazing
Metal fumes (lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, zinc); gases (oxides of nitrogen, ozone, phosgene, and asphyxiants)
Ranges from irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat to nervous system effects and cancer
Removing old brake pads and lining
Asbestos
Mesothelioma; lung cancer; asbestosis
Machining or grinding parts
Metalworking fluids
Dermatitis (irritant or allergic); eye, nose and throat irritation; asthma
Skin exposure to sunlight
Ultraviolet light
Skin cancer (especially left arm)
Skin contact with cement during loading, unloading, and clean-up operations in ready-mix concrete
Cement
Dermatitis; burns to the skin
Loading or chipping dried concrete from mixer drums; road dust
Silica
Silicosis; lung cancer

Electrical & Utilities

Location, materials, or tasks
Hazard
Major diseases
Generator brakes, pipe and electrical insulation, spray-on coatings, asbestos cement and other building materials
Asbestos
Mesothelioma; lung cancer; asbestosis
Welding & brazing
Metal fumes (lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, zinc); gases (oxides of nitrogen, ozone, phosgene, and asphyxiants)
Range from irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat to nervous system effects and cancer
Diesel- or gasoline-powered engines
Exhaust fumes
May increase risk of lung cancer
Insulating fluids, or fluids in cables, capacitors, transformers, or other equipment
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Skin acne and rashes; possible liver disease; nervous system effects; some evidence for cancer
Nuclear power generation
Ionizing radiation
Cataracts, skin reddening, effects on reproductive system, and cancer.
Extreme temperatures; facility equipment such as generators
Heat stress and cold stress
Heat stroke; frostbite and hypothermia
Generators, turbines, air compressors, chainsaws, and other machinery and equipment
Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus
Coal, fly ash; drilling, cutting, grinding, or abrading silica-containing materials
Dust and silica
Silicosis; lung cancer
Cutting, burning, and splicing electrical cable and insulation
Lead
Nervous system effects, impaired male reproduction, impaired pregnancy outcomes, kidney disease, and possibly cancer
Decay of organic matter in wastewater treatment
Hydrogen sulfide and methane
Eye, nose, and throat irritation; asphyxiation; oxygen deficiency; explosion
Water treatment chemicals
Caustics, corrosives
Irritation of the eye, nose, throat, and skin, or severe burns to exposed parts of the body
Microorganisms in human and animal wastes
Biological hazards
Respiratory and gastrointestinal illness; asthma; allergies.

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