Lecture to highlight risks of work-related cancer

Businesses in the Highlands are being called on to join a campaign to tackle work-related cancer.

2 November 2015

People in many different work sectors across the Highlands and Islands and other parts of the UK are regularly exposed to carcinogens at work, which can potentially cause various types of cancer.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is presently running a campaign called No Time to Lose, which will be the focus of a lecture at Inverness Town House.

Iain Henderson, Chair of the Highlands and Islands Branch of IOSH, said: “It is crucial that employers and employees are made more aware of common carcinogens, the main routes of exposure and how to effectively protect themselves. 
“Occupational cancer can result in a major cost to businesses and families, both financially and emotionally.”

In the UK, 8,000 people die each year from cancer caused by work, and 14,000 new cases of work-related cancer are diagnosed every year. Across the world, occupational cancer claims the lives of more than 666,000 people a year – far more than the number killed as the result of workplace accidents.

Mr Henderson said: “People in the Highlands and Islands and other parts of the UK should be able to return home to their families after work in the same state of health as when they left in the morning, without in the interim being exposed to the cause of a potentially life-shortening disease. 
“Unfortunately there are many people who are being exposed on a daily basis to carcinogens. Many of them don’t even know about the danger that this presents.

“That is why it now is the time to take action and we are calling on businesses in our area to join our campaign to cut the rates of people dying from cancer they contracted while at work. There really is ‘No Time to Lose’.”

IOSH President Elect Dr Karen McDonnell, who is set to become President at the Institution’s AGM on Tuesday 3 November, and Professor John Cherrie, lead researcher from the Edinburgh-based Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) will speak to guests at the annual James Attwood Shield Lecture.

The event is being held on Monday 16 November by the Highlands and Islands CPD(C), a group of professional institutions working in the construction industry.

This year, IOSH’s Highlands and Islands Branch, which is a member of the CPD(C), is to host this lecture. The Branch hopes it will raise awareness of the common carcinogens to which people are being exposed to at work and the research being done to control this exposure, as well as the parts employers and employees can play to reduce the risks involved.

This lecture will highlight five of the common risk factors for occupational cancer – diesel engine exhaust emissions, solar radiation, asbestos, silica dust and shift work.

During the event, Prof Cherrie will be presented with the James Attwood Shield by the Provost of Inverness, Councillor Helen Carmichael.

Prof Cherrie, whose presentation will focus on construction, said: “Cancer from work-related causes kills almost 4,000 people in the construction industry in Britain each year.
 “All of these deaths could have been prevented if we had taken the appropriate steps to protect people. We now need to ensure that we are doing the right things to ensure that future generations of construction workers will not suffer from the same problems.”

More than 60 other organisations from across the world have made a pledge to No Time to Lose campaign, while many more have endorsed it. By signing the pledge, organisations agree to assess whether work activities staff perform have the potential to cause occupational cancer, and to develop and deliver a prevention strategy.

For more information, visit the Highlands and Islands branch events page.

The meeting will be held from 7pm until 9pm and is open to everyone. Refreshments will be available from 6.30pm. There is no need to pre-book.

Media enquiries

For more information please contact:

Marcus Boocock, IOSH Media Officer, 

+44 (0)116 257 3139 or +44 (0)798 000 4474

Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager, 

+44 (0)116 257 3252 or +44 (0)797 660 4715