The objective of this study was to examine patterns and trends of accepted workplace fatality claims in Ontario compared with Canada as a whole, with a specific emphasis on occupational cancer.
Occupational cancer occurs as a result of exposure to workplace carcinogens. These exposures may have occurred as many as thirty years prior to cancer onset. Further, workers who are no longer directly exposed to carcinogens still continue to be at risk.
In 2006, Sharpe and Hardt wrote a compelling report which brought to light the overall rising trend of workplace fatalities in Canada. This report revealed that fatal traumatic injuries and disorders were no longer the most common accepted workplace fatality claims in Canada. It highlighted the increasing rate of accepted occupational disease claims, especially those related to asbestos exposure.
This study utilized specialized data requests provided by the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC). Findings were based on accepted fatality claims from workers’ compensation boards across Canada for the 1997 – 2010 period. The data used did not necessarily capture the entire workforce for any given year and there was some variability amongst jurisdictions. However, because not all jurisdictions code their data according to the same coding standards, all data provided by the AWCBC was converted so that jurisdictional comparisons could be made.
Further examination of overall trends, the identification of the types of fatalities that are highest, the source(s) causing these fatalities, and the identification industries that put workers at highest risk for occupational cancer, are essential to understand so that various efforts can be targeted in future initiatives. Investing in measures that will prevent future occupational cancers needs to become a priority. If these trends are to be changed, strengthening and enforcing occupational exposure limits and increasing efforts towards toxic use reduction for both known and suspected carcinogens and other toxic substances is necessary.
- The results have been published in an article in the Canadian Medical Association Open Access Journal titled Trends in compensation for deaths from occupational cancer in Canada: a descriptive study.
- A report examining patterns and trends for accepted workplace fatality claims and the implications these findings have on workers themselves as well as various decision-makers and stakeholders has been finalized.
- An Ontario Cancer Fact based on the findings has been published.
- The results have been highlighted in the Spring 2012 edition of the News from the CREs insert in the Institute for Work & Health’s At Work newsletter.
Paul Demers (Occupational Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Care Ontario)
Desre Kramer (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)
Ann Del Bianco (Occupational Cancer Research Centre)