Number of Deaths from Occupational Cancer Grossly Underestimated

Occupational Cancer

09.10.2007

The number of annual deaths from occupational cancer may be as high as 24,000 according to research conducted by a team based at Stirling University.

The numbers suggest and with figures reaching four times the official estimate that the Government is not accurately estimating the risk of contracting cancer at work.

Over the past 25 years it has been estimated by the Government's occupational health watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive, that just 6,000 deaths a year occur due to work related cancers. This has been found to be a gross underestimation which fails to take into consideration new chemicals, new under-regulated industries and the number of women at work.

Further claims by the authors of the study suggest that work-related cancers cost the economy at least £29bn per annum.

Further investigation into the issue conducted by the BBC found that Britain was not as stringent in controlling known workplace carcinogens as other European countries; the head of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) disease reduction programme has now made cancer prevention his top priority.

Adrian Budgen from law firm Irwin Mitchell specialises in work related cancers. He commented: "The extent to which the number of deaths caused by work related cancers has been underestimated is a great concern. It masks the need for improved controls and sees many sufferers and their families go uncompensated.

"Preventing such fatal illnesses needs to be made a priority by not just the HSE, but by individual companies also."