In a publication of the Canada Gazette on 10 June, Canada’s Department of Employment and Social Development Labour Program (a.k.a. the Labour Program) proposed amendments to the country’s occupational exposure limits (OELs) for grain dust and flour dust, to take effect within the month. For grain dust, a decrease from 10 mg/m3 to 4 mg/m3; for flour dust, an increase from 0.5 mg/m3 to 3 mg/m3.
Per the Labour Program, “The current OEL of 10 mg/m3 for grain dust is too high and, therefore, puts the health and safety of federally regulated workers at risk. Scientific studies reveal that worker exposure to elevated concentrations of airborne grain dust may cause a range of health effects, most of which involve the pulmonary system… It has been found that, at dust concentrations of 4 mg/m3 and below, the risks to eyes, skin, and upper respiratory function would be minimized.”
Per the Labour Program, “The current standard of 0.5 mg/m3 for flour dust is impracticable, as it would require employees to wear respiratory protective equipment at all times during their entire work shifts. Wearing respiratory protection equipment may interfere with task performances, reduce work efficiency and can also result in physiological and psychological burdens for workers.”