In the News: Asbestos revealed as Canada’s top cause of workplace death

19 Dec 2014

The Globe and Mail has published an article showing that asbestos accounts for more than a third of approved workplace death claims. Since 1996, almost 5,000 death claims have been approved for compensation across Canada.

Link to article

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals. It has many commercial applications such as roofing, insulation, cement pipe and sheets, friction materials, and other products. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified asbestos as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Asbestos fibres cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer.

This study looks at only compensated workplace death claims. Many occupational diseases and deaths due to asbestos are never compensated – not everyone is covered by workers’ compensation, not everyone submits a claim, and some claims are not accepted. The total number of cancer cases and deaths due to asbestos exposure in the workplace is therefore even higher. The Occupational Cancer Research Centre, together with many partners from across Canada, is currently funded by the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute to estimate the total number of cancers caused by exposure to carcinogens in the workplace in Canada each year. The study will look at 44 different carcinogens, including asbestos. For more information on the Burden of Occupational Cancer Project, click here.

The OCRC has also examined the patterns and trends for accepted workplace fatality claims in Ontario and Canada. To read more about the project and its findings, click here.