IRSST Identifies High-risk “Green” Jobs in Quebec
The Quebec-based research agency IRSST has published a study that ranks “green” jobs in the province according to the severity of the risks they present to workers. The goal of the study was to identify occupations that need further research for occupational health and safety purposes. According to IRSST, in 2010 Quebec had an estimated 155,000 green jobs, nearly 23 percent of the green jobs in Canada as a whole. IRSST staff used a combination of control-banding approaches to assess the risks green jobs present to workers. Control banding is the name for several qualitative methods of managing the risks related to working with substances whose toxicity is unknown or little understood. IRSST’s control-banding method for chemical contaminants merged three existing systems: the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, or COSHH, used in the United Kingdom; Stoffenmanager, used in the Netherlands; and the method found in the ISO/TS 12901-2:2014 standard Nanotechnologies—Occupational risk management applied to engineered nanomaterials—Part 2: Use of the control banding approach. For biological agents related to green jobs, IRSST also relied on the CSA Z94.4-11 standard Selection, Use, and Care of Respirators as well as published studies. IRSST’s conservative control-banding approach relied on the most pessimistic data and assessments available. The method identified 13 occupations as high risk for chemical exposures, and 13 as high or moderate risk for exposures to biological agents. IRSST singled out two occupations as high priorities for occupational health and safety research: public works and maintenance laborers, and water and waste treatment plant operators. According to the agency, the study’s findings emphasize “that the greening of the labor market is not necessarily associated with safer jobs, nor totally new jobs, but rather with a transformation of conventional jobs and changes in chemical and biological risks as technologies develop.” Learn more on IRSST's website.