WINNIPEG — A renewed focus on preventing occupational diseases and illnesses in the workplace is being tackled by SAFE Work Manitoba.
Between 2000 and 2015, more than 200 Manitobans lost their lives to cancer, lung diseases and other illnesses because they were exposed to harmful substances in their workplaces.
A five-year Occupational Disease and Illness Prevention Strategy addresses some of the most severe health conditions on the job.
The province says most of the deaths were linked to asbestos exposure or exposure to other toxic gases, fumes and dusts that occurred many years ago and developed into diseases later in the workers’ lives.
A lack of data showing how often workers are exposed to such materials will be at the centre of a monitoring period to later address exposure risks, and evaluate safety measures already in place.
“This monitoring is unique in that it will give us a more complete picture of high-risk substances in Manitoba workplaces, taking into account different working conditions that can affect how much a worker is exposed,” said Jamie Hall, chief operating officer for SAFE Work Manitoba.
“This will also give employers and workers relevant information to make practical improvements in the workplace.”
Manitoba-based bus manufacturer New Flyer — one of the workplaces taking part in the strategy — recently completed extensive upgrades to their weld shop to further protect their staff from welding gases and fumes.