The Inquiries Service can now provide this information in
two ways - through its global Internet service, OSH
Answers, and by its traditional person-to-person telephone/mail
OSH Answers is designed
in an informative question-and-answer style and is on the
CCOHS Web Site. It is a new service designed to take advantage
of the "instant response" provided by the World Wide Web.
The Inquiries Service itself has been a person-to-person
information service available to all Canadians for almost
20 years. Inquirers can consult with our Inquiry Officers
to submit a question (by telephone, fax or e-mail). Generally
written answers are sent to the inquirers since they usually
want to share the information with co-workers, joint health
and safety committee members, physicians, etc. or because
they need written documentation for other purposes.
Who can ask for information?
The Inquiries Service is available to all Canadians in English
and French and is accessible by telephone, fax, mail and e-mail.
A wide range of people use the service including workers,
families of workers, employers, health and safety professionals,
and government officials. The information is provided free-of-charge
and the service is confidential - we do not reveal the names
of our inquirers to anyone or any agency. This service is
primarily for Canadians, however, since it is funded by government
agencies across Canada.
What do we do?
We help people gather information on health and safety so
that they can make informed decisions about specific issues
in the workplace. The information, for example, can enable
people to identify hazards, take action to prevent injuries,
or to control conditions that may affect the health of themselves
and other workers.
Inquiries are answered by a team of CCOHS specialists with
expertise in occupational health and safety and information
retrieval. This team has access to all of the CCOHS technical
expertise, publications and computerized information sources
in addition to an extensive library containing specialized
journals, books and microfiche collections.
We answer questions with information at the level that meets
the needs of the inquirer. All responses are reviewed by subject
specialists before they are sent to the inquirers.
How does the person-to-person Inquiries Service operate?
The person-to-person Inquiries Service operates differently
from a "mail list" (i.e., mail server; 'listserv', etc.) or
a web site like OSH Answers, so our inquirers should know
a couple things before calling.
This service receives most of the occupational health and
safety requests by telephone. Because our inquirers generally
want to share our information with other people, we usually
mail our answers to them rather than providing answers over
While we endeavour to provide the information in a timely
fashion, the Inquiries Service is not an emergency response
service. Inquirers will be referred to other, more appropriate
agencies or organizations if the Inquiries Service cannot
provide the immediate response requested.
To be fair to all inquirers, all requests, whether received
by telephone, e-mail or fax, are put in the same queue and
are generally answered in the order of receipt. We say "generally"
because many questions may have pre-prepared responses that
we can process quickly whereas other questions require individualized
research before they can be answered.
With the introduction of services such as the Inquiries
Service's OSH Answers on the CCOHS Web Site and mail lists
like CCOHS's HS-Canada, we hope that we will be able to provide
more people with the type of information they find most useful
when they want it.
the person-to person Inquiries Service, how long will it take
to get an answer?
We try to answer questions within two weeks; some answers
go out the same day they are received but others can take
longer to answer. The response times vary depending on the
complexity of the questions, the availability of pre-prepared
answers, the amount of customized literature research required,
and so on. Our responses are usually sent by postal mail since
much of the information is not in a form that can be e-mailed.
While we strive to minimize response times, it is not always
possible to provide answers quickly because of:
- the large number of questions that we receive,
- the amount of research required to answer individual questions,
- the quality assurance procedures that we follow to ensure
that the answers are accurate, unbiased, and up-to-date.
can the Inquiries Service be reached?
You can reach the Inquiries Service by using the online Inquiries
Form, regular mail, fax, and telephone but the Inquiries
Service staff really prefer to talk to our inquirers directly.
This one-on-one discussion helps us to help you better and
to meet your needs more specifically.
1-800-263-8466 (Toll free in Canada only)
1-905-572-4400 (8:30 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time)
By Postal Mail:
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
135 Hunter Street East
Hamilton ON L8N 1M5
Through the Internet: Inquiry
Inquiries WWW Site: OSH