Health and Safety ReportVolume 22, Issue 03

On Topic

Protecting Ontario Construction Workers from Silicaprint this article

For construction workers involved in activities that create dust, crystalline silica (silica) is one of the most common worksite hazards.

While silica is a basic part of sand and rock and is present in concrete, cement, and other materials, it’s the dust that’s generated when performing activities such as drilling, grinding, sawing, and cutting that can be hazardous. When inhaled, this fine dust can cause serious health effects, including lung cancer and silicosis, which is an incurable lung disease. Chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma may also be caused by silica exposure. Health effects can occur after short-term high exposures or long-term repeated exposures to silica dust.

To help protect workers against harmful exposure to silica, Ontario construction workers and employers can access the free Silica Control Tool. This tool helps workplaces conduct hazard assessments and implement safe work practices. It aims to reduce the risks of silica exposure by identifying processes that may lead to potentially hazardous exposures, providing information on how to bring those exposures within the allowable limit, and producing an exposure control plan.

Construction industry workers are among the occupations at highest risk for exposure to silica, as are workers in the mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, and agriculture industries. According to CAREX Canada, 429,000 workers across Canada – 153,000 of which are in Ontario – are exposed to silica each year.

The Silica Control Tool was originally developed by the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance. The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) worked together with partners to adapt the tool to protect Ontario workers.

For more information and to register, visit the OHCOW website.



Updated Canada Labour Code, Part II Courseprint this article

Did you know? In Canada, federally regulated employers must provide health and safety training to employees that includes an overview of the Canada Labour Code, Part II.

The Canada Labour Code, Part II: An Overview online course helps meet these requirements by providing a basic understanding of the requirements of the Code and how it is applied. The course has been updated with a refreshed WHMIS section and expands on the duties of health and safety representatives, workplace health and safety committee members, and policy health and safety committee members.

This course is for employees in the federal jurisdiction at all levels, including managers and supervisors, members of policy and workplace committees, and health and safety representatives. 

Learn more about Canada Labour Code, Part II: An Overview.

Youth Video Contest

Focus On Safety Youth Video Contest is Now Openprint this article

Calling all youth in Canada: share what workplace safety means to you by entering the Focus on Safety Youth Video Contest. Winners will receive up to $2,000, and your school or educational institution will win a prize too!

Make sure to review the full contest details and note that the deadline to enter depends on which province or territory you live in. National winners will be announced on May 6, 2024, during Safety and Health Week.

Tips and Tools

Addressing Mental Health in the Workplaceprint this article

On average, Canadians spend 60 per cent of their waking hours working. That’s just one reason why it’s important for workplaces to foster psychologically safe and healthy environments. A mentally healthy workplace does more than boost mood. It promotes better worker engagement, morale, satisfaction, retention, recruitment, and productivity. Here are tips to promote mental wellness in your workplace:

  • Practise clear leadership: Set clear expectations for workers to understand what is necessary for them to accomplish their duties and help them prioritize competing tasks.
  • Manage workloads: Distribute workloads fairly among workers. Set reasonable deadlines and put plans in place to complete duties during staff shortages.  
  • Create balance: Support opportunities for work-life balance by offering paid time off and breaks. Respect the right to disconnect outside of work hours. 
  • Encourage civility and respect: Saying hello, an invitation to lunch, and using respectful language go a long way in creating a positive work environment. Develop and communicate a code of conduct that aligns with the organization’s values and ethics, and which defines respectful and civil behaviour.
  • Build culture: Invite workers to shape your organization’s mission, vision, and values, and to help build a culture of trust, honesty, fairness, and accountability.
  • Foster growth and development: Meet with workers to discuss their professional goals and look for ways to help them achieve milestones.  
  • Protect physical safety: Work to eliminate hazards wherever possible and put policies in place that protect workers’ physical safety. Provide health and safety training and investigate any incidents immediately.
  • Protect psychological safety: Establish a safe and confidential system for workers to report incidents, like bullying, harassment, or discrimination, without fear of reprisal. 
  • Invite involvement and influence: Include workers on important matters that affect the workplace through face-to-face discussions, surveys, and suggestion boxes.
  • Offer psychological and social support: Make mental health resources readily available to workers, such as an employee assistance program or counselling services in the community.
  • Recognize and reward: Find out how workers prefer to be rewarded and recognized and acknowledge them for a job well done. This could include celebrating accomplishments, giving bonuses and raises, or simply saying a sincere thank you.  
  • Support psychological demands: Make sure job descriptions reflect the psychological demands of the job. Develop worker competencies to meet the psychological demands of their roles. Prepare workers for potential stressful events, like a workplace emergency or difficult customers. 
  • Encourage engagement: Encourage collaboration among team members and provide team building and volunteer opportunities to get involved in activities within your organization, or in the community.

CCOHS Resources:


Making Sense of Scent Sensitivities print this article

CCOHS releases new podcasts each month to help you stay current and informed on workplace health, safety, and well-being in Canada.

Featured Podcast: Making Sense of Scent Sensitivities  

While the scent of cologne or hand lotion may be pleasant to some, for co-workers with sensitivities to fragrances, they may have unpleasant health effects. In fact, reactions to scents, such as headaches, itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing, are a medical condition and recognized disability under the Canada Human Rights Act.

Tune in to this CCOHS podcast to learn how your workplace can accommodate scent sensitivities so that everyone at work can breathe easy.

Listen to the podcast now.

Encore Podcast: Women Leaders in Health and Safety

In recognition of International Women’s Day this March, this encore podcast celebrates women in the field of health and safety. Learn more as CCOHS chats with Lee-Anne Lyon-Bartley and Janet Mannella about their journey to health and safety leadership.

Listen to the podcast now.

See the complete list of podcast topics or, better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes or Spotify and don't miss a single episode.


Give Us Your Opinion and You Could Winprint this article

Tell us what you want to see in the newsletter and what you need to help you and others work safely.

Complete the short survey by April 4, 2024, and you could win a $100 Canadian Tire gift card.

Take the Health and Safety Report Readership Survey.

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Partner News

New Online Course: Fatigue Management at Sea print this article

Do you work on the high seas? Increase your understanding of the laws, regulations, and responsibilities surrounding fatigue management to reduce risks at sea.

Fatigue Management at Sea, a new course developed in partnership with Transport Canada, helps seafarers, vessel owners, and masters understand what fatigue is, how to avoid it, and how to reduce its effects.

Registered Canadian seafarers, with a valid Candidate Document Number (CDN) can take the course for free, courtesy of Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security.

Learn more about the course.

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