Designated Substances, Chemical and Biological Exposures

Ontario has regulations governing the exposure of workers to various substances. Regulation 833 - Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents, sets limits in workplace air for approximately 600 toxic substances. Regulation 490/09 regulates designated substances in the workplace.

When does Regulation 833 Apply?

3. (1) Every employer shall take all measures reasonably necessary in the circumstances to protect workers from exposure to a hazardous biological or chemical agent because of the storage, handling, processing or use of such agent in the workplace.

This means that a person must be working with the substances in the list for Regulation 833 to apply. The person can be a contractor, employee, professor, teaching assistant, etc.

What is a Designated Substance?

A designated substance is identified by the Ministry of Labour. These include 11 substances, some of which are NOT on campus:

  • Acrylonitrile (not on campus, (used in industrial chemical processes)
  • Arsenic (certain wood preservatives, occurs naturally in rock formations, metallurgy)
  • Asbestos (old pipe insulation, old ceiling tiles...)
  • Benzene (solvent found in petroleum products)
  • Coke oven emissions (not on campus)
  • Ethylene oxide (used in industrial chemical processes)
  • Isocyanates (used to produce pesticides)
  • Lead (old paint and old plumbing solder)
  • Mercury (thermometers and laboratories)
  • Silica (fine sand dust from concrete)
  • Vinyl chloride (precursor to polymers)

The University has controls in place to respect exposure limits set by the Ministry of Labour.

When do the Designated Substances Regulations Apply?

Before a construction job is allowed to begin, the contractors and construction workers need to be made aware of the designated substances in the building. The workers will then be informed and can take measures to limit their exposure.

People working in a building with designated substances must be aware of precautions to take to limit their exposure. They must signal problems to their building administrator who will notify PRS and ORM. This is independent of construction activities.

For More Information

Please contact ORM if you require more information. Each campus building is unique much like each University employee has unique tasks. Therefore is is impossible to provide generic guidelines that apply to all buildings and all circumstances.

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