Feeling Okay? Learn More About Occupational Diseases

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The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) defines occupational illness as a condition that results from exposure in a workplace to a physical, chemical, or biological agent to the extent that the normal physiological mechanisms are affected. Not to be confused with occupational injuries, which are the result of a trauma, an occupational disease is a chronic ailment that develops over time. In 2011, occupational diseases contributed to 73% of all allowed Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) fatality claims.

Construction site workers are often at increased risk for infectious disease because of exposure to bacteria and viruses from unsanitary jobsite conditions. In order to help avoid things like Salmonella, E. coli, and Hepatitis A, the Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates that workers must have access to toilets and clean-up facilities. During warmer months especially, Lyme disease is an occupational concern for outdoor workers, namely construction and utility workers, utility arborists, and powerline technicians. Occupational cancer is cancer that is caused wholly or partly by exposure to a carcinogen at work, and the most common types are: lung cancer, bladder cancer and mesothelioma.

Familiarize yourself with the materials being used in your facility and how to work safety with and around them. Also, be alert to symptoms or changes in your health, and keep a list of all the jobs and industries in which you have worked.

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