Canadian Occupational Safety

May/June 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 6 of 35 7 "Health and safety professionals need to be aware of the industry… There is a need for more education and more awareness of the hazards." Victoria Arrandale Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto IN 2014, 41.8 million tons of e-waste originated from products such as televisions, computers, monitors and cellphones. A topic that is often overlooked is the health of workers who are processing this e-waste at recycling facilities around the world. "Health and safety professionals need to be aware of the industry and working to build health and safety capacity in this industry because it is still emerging and there is a need for more education and more awareness of the hazards," says Victoria Arrandale, assistant professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Arrandale and her colleagues recently tackled this issue by studying workers and their working conditions at an e-waste dismantling facility in Ontario. They found these workers are exposed to flame-retardant (FR) chemicals that have been used in plastic casings of electronics, motherboards, transistors, capacitors and battery casings to comply with flammability standards. Workers at this Canadian facility were exposed to higher levels of some types of FR-containing dust than those in informal facilities in countries such as China and Thailand. At the Ontario facility being studied, researchers observed inconsistent use of personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, and they were not aware of any operating emission abatement equipment. Workers are exposed to the FR dust mainly during product dismantling as well as when the products undergo grinding, shredding, compaction and further processing. In their research, Arrandale and her colleagues came across studies that found the following adverse effects from fetal or early-life exposure to FRs: reduced IQ and externalizing behaviour problems; abnormal migration of testes; and alterations in timing of puberty. Other studies found a risk of breast cancer, poor in vitro fertilization outcomes, reduced semen quality and papillary thyroid cancer for adult exposure. The researchers noted there are few occupational exposure limits (OEL) in Canada to protect e-waste workers from FRs. They identified only one OEL for an FR, triphenyl phosphate (TPhP), which is set at 3 mg/m3, based on the threshold limit value assigned by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). But this value has not been updated since proposed in 1961. While fairly recent regulations limit the use of FRs in new products — such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — workers at e-waste facilities are largely handling old electronics as it takes decades for these products to leave the use phase. E-WASTE RECYCLING WORKERS EXPOSED TO FR CHEMICALS: STUDY New study details increased risk of thyroid cancer as well as the possibility of negative fetal exposure outcomes WCB P.E.I. updates rules for medical cannabis use The WCB of Prince Edward Island has updated its rules on the approval of medical cannabis use. It might be approved for compensable injuries or diseases if authorized by a WCB- recognized health-care provider who has assessed the worker. If standard treatment options have been unsuccessful, approval may be granted. The cannabis must be supplied by a WCB-approved producer, with a maximum of three grams of dried leaves per day of cannabidiol (CBD) rich preparation. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of medical cannabis must be no greater than one per cent. Workers are obligated to disclose possible impairment due to medical cannabis use to their employer before WCB approval. Safe Work Manitoba unveils driving safety initiative Safe Work Manitoba has launched the Safe Driving at Work Plan to address the number of work-related fatalities caused by vehicle collisions in the province — one in five from 2014 to 2018. The plan will offer tools and services to Manitoba employers, including consultations, a half-day workshop and a comprehensive online toolkit, to help them create and implement safe driving programs that fit the needs of their workers, job tasks and workplaces. The agency will collaborate with Manitoba Public Insurance on public education and awareness efforts. The two groups will also work together to expand data collection about work-related driving incidents, injuries and fatalities.

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