The Canadian regulatory system for occupational safety and health is divided between two separate jurisdictions: federal and provincial. Labour Canada only has jurisdiction over federal agencies and their employees; the provinces are responsible for all other workers through their respective ministries of labor and separate occupational safety and health acts. Under the Canada Labour Code, Part II, Chapter L2, the nickel exposure limits for federal employees, expressed as time-weighted average exposure values (“TWAEVs”), are 1.0 mg Ni/m3 for nickel metal, oxides and sulfides and 0.1 mg Ni/m3 for water- soluble nickel compounds. The TWAEV for nickel carbonyl is 0.12 mg Ni/m3.
The OELs for non-federal employees can vary from province to province. For example, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act states: “An employer shall...take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker....” The Ontario Ministry of Labour is authorized to inspect workplaces, issue orders to employers mandating compliance, and develop regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Specifically, exposure limits have been mandated under the Regulation Respecting Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents (654/86). Expressed as TWAEVs, the limits for nickel are the same as the aforementioned limits for federal employees (Table 9-1).
These limits, like those in a number of other countries, are based on the work of the ACGIH. However, Ontario is currently reviewing, through a bipartite process involving the participation of labor and management, all regulations applicable to hazardous substances in the workplace including OELs. To date, no changes in the OELs for various forms of nickel in Ontario have been indicated.