Shift work in Canadian industries – a probable cancer risk factor

Night-time shift work has been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Understanding the distribution of shift workers across industries and the types of shifts that they work helps us to design research studies, predict health impacts and target prevention efforts, with the ultimate goal of mitigating the adverse health effects of shift work.

In 2010, the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) and the Institute for Work & Health co-hosted a scientific symposium on the health effects of shift work that brought together the research, employer, labour and workers’ compensation communities. A second symposium, focused on interventions to reduce the impact of shift work, is planned for the fall of 2011.

OCRC has prepared an Ontario Cancer Fact on shift work in Canadian industries.