Examining lung cancer risks across different industries and occupations in Ontario, Canada: the establishment of the Occupational Disease Surveillance System

Jung J, Feinstein S, Lazgare L, MacLeod J, Arrandale V, McLeod C, Peter, A, Demers P. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2018;75:545-552.

Background: The Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS) was established in Ontario, Canada by linking a cohort of workers with data created from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims to administrative health databases. The aim of this study was to use ODSS to identify high-risk industry and occupation groups for lung cancer in Ontario.

Methods: Workers in the WSIB lost time claims database were linked to the Ontario Cancer Registry using subjects’ health insurance numbers, name, sex, birthdate and death date (if applicable). Several occupations and industries known to be at increased risk were outlined a priori to examine whether ODSS could replicate these associations. Age-adjusted, sex-stratified Cox proportional hazard models compared the risk of lung cancer within one industry/occupation versus all other groups in the cohort. Workers with a lung cancer diagnosis prior to cohort entry were excluded for analysis, leaving 2 187 762 workers for analysis.

Results: During the 1983 to 2014 follow-up, 34 661 workers in the cohort were diagnosed with lung cancer. Among expected high-risk industries, elevated risks were observed among workers in quarries/sand pits and construction industries for both sexes, and among males in metal mines, iron foundries, non-metallic mineral products industries and transportation industries. Excess risk was also observed among occupations in drilling/blasting, other mining/quarrying, mineral ore treating, excavating/grading/paving, truck driving, painting, bus driving and construction.

Conclusions: This current surveillance system identified several established high-risk groups for lung cancer and could be used for ongoing surveillance of occupational lung cancer in Ontario.