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CAMPAIGN TO CUT WORK CANCER DEATHS LAUNCHED

IOSH says “No Time To Lose” over cancer risks

IOSH, the Chartered body for health and safety professionals with around 44,000 members in 100 countries, has today (3 Nov) launched a  No Time to Lose Campaign which is a call to action on work related cancer.

It is thought that some 8,000 people die from cancer and around 14,000 contract the disease each year in the UK because of exposure to a work-related carcinogen e.g. diesel exhaust fumes, silica dust or asbestos.

The figures outstrip those for fatal incidents in the workplace, but the invisibility of carcinogens, the long latency of their effects and a lack of knowledge continue to produce this high number of preventable deaths and cancer registrations.

The No Time to Lose campaign is backed by business leaders, academics and charity Macmillan Cancer Support and will call for a collaboration of government and employers “to beat occupational cancer”.

Database, research and apprentice awareness training

A national database of work-related carcinogen exposure, more research into the potential cancer risks of new technologies, a greater focus on work cancer in medical courses and awareness training for apprentices are all part of the call to action.

IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said:

“We need a concerted joint effort to educate and protect future generations from work-related cancer. Simple actions today will save lives tomorrow – there really is no time to lose in tackling this global tragedy.”

Dr Lesley Rushton, of Imperial College London, is lead researcher behind the most recent study into the UK’s work cancer burden. She said:

“There’s no excuse for young people entering into work today and being exposed to carcinogens. And we need innovative ways to get key messages to the self-employed and those working in smaller businesses.

If we don’t do something now, we are going to have thousands of occupational cancers annually, but if we take action now we can beat occupational cancer.

We know there are problems with exhaust fumes and shift work, sun exposure is a problem. We know what the problems are, and we know how to reduce the risks. Now, we just need action.”

Construction union UCATT have welcomed the campaign. Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said:

Workplace cancer kills hundreds of construction workers every year, too often this is a result of employers carelessly exposing workers to dangerous substances. This campaign will raise awareness and help reduce deaths.

This campaign must be backed up by strong enforcement action. If workers are needlessly being exposed to fatal substances then those responsible should be prosecuted.

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