01/12/2005

British TUC Report questions official work cancer figures

Britain is facing an occupational cancer epidemic that could be killing up to
24,000 people every year, four times official estimates, according to a British
Trade Union Council (TUC) report published last Friday.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that just four per cent of the UK's
annual cancer death toll (one in three people in the UK will be diagnosed with
cancer in their lifetime, one in four will die from it) is as a result of
exposure to carcinogens at work, which it says is equal to 6,000 deaths a year.

However, the 'Burying the evidence' report by Hazards, the TUC-backed health
and safety magazine, concludes that the incidence of occupational cancer in the
UK is much higher, and suggests that it is between 12,000 and 24,000 deaths a
year (the equivalent of 16 per cent of all cancer deaths in the UK).

Although there are limits regarding exposures to hazardous chemicals such as
crystalline silica, radon, diesel engine exhaust, benzene and lead compounds in
the UK, the TUC believes that many employers are risking the future well-being
of their employees by not adhering strictly to the rules. More inspections of
workplaces would make it difficult for employers to get away with needlessly
exposing their staff to toxic substances, says the TUC.

'Burying the evidence' says that the reason why official figures so
underestimate the scale of the problem in the UK is because HSE work in this
area is based on now essentially flawed US research conducted almost 25 years
ago.

The report believes that the failure of the HSE to upwardly revise its figures
relating to the number of people who die each year as a result of occupational
cancers is preventing the workplace cancer epidemic from being dealt with
properly, and is exposing thousands of workers to untold risks.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work