IOSH addresses Hong Kong CEOs about occupational cancer

How CEOs and company directors can take action to protect their employees from developing work-related diseases was the focus of a major safety and health conference in Hong Kong.

29 January 2016

Best practice around engaging employees on safety and collaborating with other organisations to combat work-related ill health was shared during national rail operator MTR Corporation Ltd’s annual Contractors’ Safety Conference. 

Packed conference with delegates holding up No Time to Lose campaign brochures

Around 450 senior leaders of companies within MTR’s supply chain attended the conference, which took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with support from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The Institution’s president, Dr Karen McDonnell, addressed delegates about IOSH’s campaign to raise awareness around the world of occupational cancers.

More than 100 leading organisations have formally supported  IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, with MTR among a growing number of large corporations across the world to have pledged to tackle the issue through the initiative.

Through the initiative, IOSH is raising awareness and offering practical advice to help businesses protect their workers from occupational cancer, with a specific focus on five common work-related risk factors – diesel engine exhaust emissions, solar radiation, asbestos, silica dust and shift work.

Karen said: “We need to reduce the risks of people being exposed to carcinogens while at work. Work-based carcinogens are largely under the radar and we need to raise their profile if we want to see more action taken to control them.

“Responsible businesses are doing a lot of what is required, but they need to do more. IOSH is developing free resources to help with this. By working together we can take preventative action.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 666,000 people die every year worldwide from a work-related cancer. Latest available figures from the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore also state that around 200,000 people in the Western Pacific Region died from occupational cancer in 2011.

MTR vowed to “embrace our obligation” to care for the health and wellbeing of its staff and contractors when it signed up to No Time to Lose. The corporation has previously provided training for 140 of its contractors’ safety managers on how to manage and prevent harmful exposures in the workplace.

The Contractors’ Safety Conference, which took place on Friday 22 January, emphasised the important role that senior management plays in fostering a positive safety and health culture within their organisations. Senior figures from MTR shared their thoughts around engagement and behaviour-based safety, working in partnership to promote safety and health and how the design process can be used to eliminate and reduce health risks.

Stephen Pollock, project safety manager at MTR Corporation Ltd and a member of IOSH, addressed delegates on the topic of safety focus for 2016.

He said: “At the conference we reaffirmed our commitment to support the IOSH No Time to Lose campaign.

“MTR ‘s commitment is tangible. As well as providing extensive information and training to the contractor workforce we will be providing free health screening on site for up to 2,000 workers, in March 2016 and, throughout the year, inviting experts into our projects to promote the themed topics. In addition to this our full time nurses are available at our construction site to give advice and monitor health controls.”

The conference also saw IOSH present MTR and international construction companies Laing O’Rourke and Leighton Asia with certificates to recognise their No Time to Lose campaign pledges.

In making its campaign pledge, Vincent Wong, M&E project manager at Leighton Asia, said: “We are constantly assessing the workplace for health and safety risks that can place our people in danger. Cancer is one of the risks, therefore we work together to find innovative ways to eliminate or control this risk.

“From design to construction and final project delivery, we hold ourselves to the highest health and safety standards.”

IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety professionals and has more than 44,000 members in 120 countries, including Hong Kong.

Image: Delegates showing their support for No Time To Lose. 

Contact Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager

[email protected]
+44 (0)116 257 3252
+44 (0)797 660 4715