September 9, 2021

Study Compares Exposure Databases for OSHA, Quebec

A comparison of occupational exposure databases conducted by IRSST, a Quebec-based occupational health and safety research agency, suggests that OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) can be used in combination with Quebec’s Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to gain a fuller understanding of exposures in the province’s workplaces. IRSST notes that although LIMS is useful for developing exposure profiles, interpretation of the data is limited because it contains little information about the circumstances and objectives of sampling. Since the IMIS data provide this context, IRSST researchers set out to determine if IMIS could be a useful source of information on exposures in Quebec.

The study focused on the period 1985 to 2011 and identified 49 common substances in the two databases, including 21 solvents, 15 metals, 5 gases, 4 isocyanates, 2 acids, crystalline silica, and styrene. IMIS contained 2.7 times as many data points for metals than LIMS, while LIMS contained nearly 3.5 times as many data points for solvents as IMIS. Both databases had similar numbers of non-detects and of values exceeding ACGIH threshold limit values. Analysis and modeling showed that both short- and long-term exposure levels to metals were, on average, approximately twice as high in LIMS as in IMIS. The study also found significant differences in exposure levels for solvents.

More information is available from the website of IRSST, the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail.