The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has launched a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of people who die from occupational cancer.
No Time To Lose, which is backed by Macmillan Cancer Support, business leaders and academics, is calling on ministers and employers to form a collaboration to wipe out such cases.
It is thought that around 8,000 people in the UK and 666,000 people worldwide die from cancer each year because they were exposed to diesel exhaust fumes, asbestos fibres or other carcinogens at work. Around 14,000 Britons develop some form of occupational cancer each year.
This means that more people are dying from workplace-related cancer than from accidents at work.
There is relatively little awareness of occupational cancer because of the invisibility of carcinogens and the long time it normally takes for the cancers to develop.
IOSH is calling for the creation of a national database of work-related carcinogen exposure, and wants more research to be carried out into new technologies and what their potential cancer risks are.
It says there should also be a bigger focus on occupational cancer in medical courses and more awareness training for apprentices.
IOSH is urging employers to sign a pledge in a bid to demonstrate their commitment to reducing workers’ exposure to carcinogenic substances, and is due to publish new guidance to help businesses identify and tackle cancer risks in the workplace.
The organisation said a recent survey of its members showed that four in five respondents feel the industry is not taking enough action on occupational health issues.
Action ‘is needed now’
Richard Jones, IOSH head of policy and public affairs, said a “concerted joint effort” is necessary to help protect future generations from occupational cancer, adding that there is “no time to lose” in tackling the disease.
Dr Lesley Rushton, of Imperial College London, who has carried out research into work-related cancer, said no one who enters into work today should be exposed to carcinogens.
She said occupational cancer can be beaten if action is taken now.
Making a claim
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