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Proposed Changes Affecting the Control of Hazardous Substances under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

This consultation is closed.

Updating of Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs)

Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) restrict the amount and duration of worker exposure to hazardous workplace substances such as asbestos, benzene and lead.

Consultation on the annual revised limits recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) is the foundation of the Ministry of Labour (MOL)’s OEL update process. Through this process, the MOL has successfully updated OELs for over 200 hazardous substances since 2004. This is the MOL’s 11th consultation under the OEL update process. It is based on the ACGIH’s annually recommended changes to OELs for the years 2014 and 2015.

Additional Regulatory Changes Proposed

This year, in addition to consulting on new or revised OELs for a number of substances, the MOL is proposing to:

Details on all proposals are provided below.

Proposed OEL Changes

The tables posted on the MOL’s website contain new or revised OELs or listings proposed for 21 substances resulting from changes recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Further information about the ACGIH’s intended changes and how stakeholders can comment is available at the ACGIH’s "Notice of Intended Changes (NIC)".

Proposed changes based on the 2014 ACGIH recommendations include the following:

  • Addition of specific listings for 2 substances in regulation: Ethyl isocyanate and Peracetic acid.
  • Revisions to exposure limits or listings for 11 substances currently regulated: Atrazine, Barium sulfate, 1-Bromopropane, Ethylidene norbornene, Methomyl, Methyl isocyanate, Naphthalene, Nickel carbonyl, Pentachlorophenol, Pentane, and Trichloroacetic acid.

Proposed changes based on the 2015 ACGIH recommendations include the following:

  • Addition of specific listings for 2 substances to regulation: Phenyl isocyanate and Cyanogen bromide.
  • Revisions to exposure limits or listings for 6 substances currently regulated: Acetone, Lithium hydride, Methyl formate, Oxalic acid, 1,2,3 -Trichloropropane and Triethylamine.

Proposed New Respiratory Protection Requirements

Currently, there are no specific requirements addressing the care, selection and use of respiratory protection in Regulation 833. Building on the Ministry’s proposal to introduce respiratory protection requirements into O. Reg. 490/09 (Note: this proposal was subject to a public consultation period from May 4th, 2015 to July 6th, 2015), the Ministry is proposing to incorporate similar provisions into Regulation 833.

The proposed new respiratory protection requirements would require employers to ensure that respiratory equipment is appropriate for the form and concentration of the airborne chemical or biological substance, and to establish written measures and procedures that address the selection, care and use of the equipment.

Employers would also be required to ensure that workers are provided with instruction and training in the care and use of the equipment that addresses: limitations of the respiratory equipment; inspection and maintenance of the respiratory equipment, including the end of service life indicators or change out schedules for cartridges, canisters and filters for air-purifying respirators; proper fitting of the respiratory equipment; and cleaning and disinfection of the respiratory equipment.

Where practicable, employers would be required to provide respiratory equipment to individual workers for their exclusive use. The respiratory equipment would need to be approved by the United States (U.S.) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It would also need to be selected with regard to: the airborne concentration of the chemical or biological substance; the manufacturer’s information on the intended use, scope and limitations of the respiratory equipment; its maximum use and concentration; and, the potential for an atmosphere with an oxygen concentration of less than 19.5%, an atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to life or health, or oil in the atmosphere.

The respiratory equipment would need to meet or exceed the assigned protection factors set out in the following table:

Respiratory Equipment Protection Factors
Type of Respirator Assigned Protector Factor (APF)
Air-Purifying Respirator (APR) - Filtering or facepiece[1] 10
APR - half facepiece[1] 10
APR - full facepiece[1] 50
Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) - half facepiece 50
PAPR - full facepiece 1000
PAPR - helmet/hood 25
1000[2]
PAPR - loose fitting facepiece/visor 25
Airline Respirator (AR) (continuous flow) - half facepiece 50
AR (continuous flow) - full facepiece 1000
AR (continuous flow) - helmet/hood 25
1000[2]
AR (continuous flow) - loose fitting facepiece / visor 25
AR (pressure demand) - half facepiece 50
AR (pressure demand) - full facepiece 1000
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) (pressure demand) - full facepiece 10,000

[1]For asbestos, an air-purifying face piece respirator with an N-100, R-100 or P-100 particulate filter is required.
[2]For specific respirators, an APF of 1000 may be assigned where so rated by NIOSH or where supported by a simulated workplace protection factor study supplied by the respirator manufacturer.

Airline respirators used in an atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to life or health would be required to be fitted with an auxiliary supply of breathing air that is of sufficient capacity to permit the worker to escape unassisted from the environment.

Breathing air supplied by compressed breathing air systems, including air cylinders, would be required to meet the requirements set out in Table 1 of CSA Standard Z180.1-13, Compressed Breathing Air and Systems (January, 2013).

Air intakes used in connection with compressed breathing air systems would be required to, in the case of breathing air delivered by compressors, be situated and installed in accordance with Section 6 – Air intake and Annex A of the CSA Standard Z180.1-13, Compressed Breathing Air and Systems (January, 2013). In the case of breathing delivered by ambient air systems, it would be required to be situated and installed in accordance with Section 6 – Air intake and Annex B of the Standard referred to in (a).

Compressed breathing air systems, using oil-lubricated compressors to supply breathing air, would be required to be equipped with continuous carbon monoxide monitors that are calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction and have audible and visual alarms that activate at 5 ppm; and have the breathing air tested at least once every six months to ensure that it conforms to requirements set out in Table 1 of the CSA Standard Z180.1-13, Compressed Breathing Air and Systems (January, 2013).

Respiratory equipment would be required to be used and cared for in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and procedures.

Workers would be required to be assigned to an operation using a respirator only if they are physically able to perform the operation while using the respirator.

Respiratory equipment designed to be tight fitting would be required to be tested for fit in accordance with a qualitative or quantitative fit test method set out in CSA Standard Z94.4-11, Selection, Use and Care of Respirators. Workers using tight fitting elastomeric respirators would be required to conduct positive and negative pressure user seal checks prior to every use. The equipment would not be provided to or worn by a worker who has facial hair that comes between the sealing surface of the face piece and the face, or that interferes with the functioning of the respirator.

Employers would be required to create and maintain maintenance records for powered air-purifying respirators, airline respirators and self-contained breathing apparatuses.

Proposed New Air Sampling Requirements

Proposed changes include a requirement for employers to ensure that the procedures for monitoring, sampling and determining airborne concentrations of chemical substances and worker exposure to these substances:

  • are carried out in accordance with a standard method for workplace sampling and analysis published by: ASTM International, the Health and Safety Executive (U.K.), the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (Quebec), the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (U.S.); the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (U.S.); International Organization for Standardization (ISO); and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • be performed by a person who is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience in accordance with recognized industrial hygiene practice.

Proposed New Equivalency Clause

The MOL is proposing to add a new “equivalency clause” to Regulation 833, in relation to the proposed new measuring and respiratory protection provisions. The proposed clause would set conditions that a variance must satisfy such as affording protection for the health and safety of workers that is at least equal to the protection afforded by the regulatory requirement being varied and require that the joint health and safety committee be notified of the change.

Proposed New Minimum Oxygen Content in Regulation 851 – Industrial Regulations

Changes to the minimum oxygen content set out in section 138 of Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments are proposed to better protect workers and align with the requirements of section 7.1 of Regulation 833 – Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents, section 1 (b) of O. Reg. 632/05 – Confined Spaces and sections 252-254 of Regulation 854 – Mines and Mining Plants.

Currently, section 138 (1) of Regulation 851 requires workers likely to be “exposed to an atmosphere at atmospheric pressure with an oxygen content of less than 18 per cent” to be protected by mechanical ventilation. It is proposed that this section be revised to require mechanical ventilation be provided where workers are likely to be exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere that is less than 19.5 per cent by volume.

Proposed Changes to Medical Examinations in O. Reg. 278/05 – Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations

The Ministry is proposing changes to the frequency of medical examinations prescribed in paragraph 2 of subsection 22(4) of O. Reg. 278/05 in order to be consistent with the Ministry’s proposed new Medical Surveillance Code for Designated Substances consulted on between May and July 2015.

Paragraph 2 of subsection 22(4) of O. Reg. 278/05 currently provides for a subsequent medical examination that “is recommended by the worker’s physician and takes place at least two years after the most recent examination”. To be consistent with the Ministry’s proposed new Medical Surveillance Code for Designated Substances, it is proposed that the frequency for subsequent medical examinations in Paragraph 2 of subsection 22(4) of O. Reg. 278/05 be changed to “is recommended by the worker’s physician and takes place at least every 5 years after the most recent examination”.

Notice to Consultation Participants

Submissions and comments provided to the Ministry of Labour are part of a public consultation process to solicit views on proposed revisions to Regulation 833, O. Reg. 490/09, O. Reg. 278/05 and Regulation 851. This process may involve the Ministry publishing or posting to the internet your submissions, comments, or summaries of them. In addition, the Ministry may also disclose your submissions, comments, or summaries of them, to other parties during and after the consultation period.

Therefore, you should not include the names of other parties (such as the names of employers or other employees) or any other information by which other parties could be identified in your submission.

Further, if you, as an individual, do not want your identity to be made public, you should not include your name or any other information by which you could be identified in the main body of the submission. If you do decide to identify yourself in the body of the submission this information may be released with published material or made available to the public. However, your name and contact information provided outside of the body of the submission, such as found in a cover letter, will not be disclosed by the Ministry unless required by law. An individual who provides a submission or comments and indicates an affiliation with an organization will be considered a representative of that organization and his or her identity may be disclosed.

Personal information collected during this consultation is under the authority of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and is in compliance with section 38 (2) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

If you have any questions regarding privacy matters, you may contact the Ministry's Freedom of Information and Privacy Office at 416-326-7786.