Exposed! Or not? The diminishing record of workplace exposure in Canada

Amy L. Hall, Cheryl E. Peters, Paul A. Demers, Hugh W. Davies


The Canadian Workplace Exposure Database (CWED) is the first of its kind in Canada. It was originally developed in 2008 by the Canadian Carcinogen Exposure project (CAREX Canada) to assist in estimating worker exposures to carcinogens across the country.

Following the CWED’s establishment, all Canadian federal and provincial agencies responsible for administering occupational health and safety regulation were surveyed to obtain a clearer picture of the quantity and quality of regulatory exposure data available. This revealed troubling reductions in exposure measurement collection, retention, and centralization by these agencies in recent years.

Such trends will limit access to workplace exposure measurements for federal and provincial regulatory agencies as well as health researchers. Workplace exposure databases are used around the world for a variety of important purposes, such as identifying hazardous workplaces and workers at risk, assessing temporal–spatial trends, setting priorities for prevention, and informing epidemiological research.

Efforts are underway to preserve historical data and promote prospective collection, however future success of the CWED will require collaboration and long-term vision on the part of those responsible for collecting workplace exposure measurements in Canada.


Occupational exposure; exposure database; hazard control; workplace surveillance

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