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Reducing the Risk of Work-Related Cancer

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) recently held an event to increase awareness of the dangers of exposure to diesel fumes at work.

Dangers of Exposure to Diesel Fumes

Figures published by IOSH suggest that more than 650 people are killed each year in Britain as a result of lung or bladder cancer caused by exposure to diesel fumes at work. In addition, around 800 new cases of cancer linked to diesel exhaust fume exposure are registered each year.

The event aimed to give a greater insight into how diesel fumes can cause cancer and provide advice on how best to control exposure to these dangerous substances.

“Diesel fumes may contain over ten times the amount of soot particles than in petrol exhaust fumes, and the mixture includes several carcinogenic substances, meaning they have the potential to cause cancer,” explained IOSH’s Professional Standards Committee Chair, Tim Brigg.

“At the very least, short-term, high-level exposures to diesel exhaust fumes can irritate the eyes and lungs,” he said. “Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic, respiratory ill health with symptoms including coughing and feeling breathless.”

“At worst, if people are exposed to diesel engine exhaust fumes regularly and over a long period, there is an increased risk of getting lung cancer,” he added.

No Time to Lose Campaign

Reducing the risks of occupational cancer is the primary focus of a campaign IOSH has been running since November 2014.

The No Time to Lose campaign calls on Government and employers to act now to reduce the risks of occupational cancer through actions such as the development of 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.

IOSH estimates that as many as 8,000 people die from cancer and 14,000 contract it each year in the UK as a result of exposure to carcinogens at work. The main causes of exposure include diesel exhaust fumes, silica dust and asbestos fibres. World-wide, occupational cancer is thought to be the cause of death of around 666,000 people each year.

Preventative Action is Needed Now

“There’s no excuse for young people entering into work today and being exposed to carcinogens,” commented Dr Lesley Rushton, of Imperial College London, speaking at the time of the campaign launch. “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,” she said. “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.”

Contact Us

If you have contracted an illness as a result of your work, including work-related cancer, and would like to find out more about making a personal injury claim for compensation, then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today.

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