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What you can do to be safe at work

Workplaces are safer today than they were in the past. Workplace health and safety practices have greatly reduced or eliminated exposure to harmful substances, including carcinogens.

But you still may be exposed to hazardous substances at work. Here are some important ways to protect yourself:

Follow workplace health and safety instructions when using, storing and disposing of hazardous materials.

Materials in the workplace have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This document gives information on the potential hazards, health effects of exposure and how to work safely with the product. These guidelines are printed on the packaging and are posted in the workplaceworkers wearing hazard suits.

Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) identifies the hazards of a chemical and provides information on the safe use of hazardous materials. WHMIS information is provided through product labels, MSDS information and worker education programs.

Use all the protective clothing and equipment provided by your employer to help minimize the risk of exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Participate in training programs and use this information to work safely with hazardous materials.

Tell your employers when labels on containers have been accidentally removed or if the label is no longer readable.

Report accidental exposure immediately.

If you’re concerned about your workplace

You have the right (under provincial, territorial and federal health and safety legislation) to refuse work that exposes you to known and highly suspected carcinogens. If you’re concerned about exposure to a potential carcinogen or would like more information about potential hazards in your workplace, contact the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety or the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

The Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) in Canada was set up to increase knowledge on the causes and prevention of work-related cancers. For more information, visit the OCRC website.

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