2-7 Reporting exposures to biological, chemical and physical agents
Firefighters often work in environments where there is a potential to be exposed to biological, chemical or physical agents. These exposures may occur, despite taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect firefighters’ health and safety.
Firefighters may experience many such exposures over their careers that could result in an illness or disease. Due to latency periods, illness or disease may occur long after the time of the exposure.
Actions for employers
- establish a procedure for recording exposures, whether confirmed or suspected
- establish a procedure for reviewing incidents which resulted in exposure, to prevent a similar reoccurrence
- consult with their joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative in the development of these procedures
Exposure report contents
An exposure report should include information regarding:
- the incident and details of the exposure
- personal protective equipment worn or used
- hazardous agent(s) potentially exposed to
- additional details regarding how the exposure occurred
A copy should be provided to the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.
Prevention of reoccurrence
Exposure reports should be reviewed after incidents, to determine what measures should be taken to prevent a reoccurrence.
Consider the following:
- updates to current operating procedures or guidelines
- adequacy of personal protective equipment
- worker training
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(d) for making workers aware of hazards
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
- Regulation 833 – Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents
- Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments
- section 130 for training requirements for workers who may be exposed to biological, chemical or physical agents