A study of cancer among the current and former employees of NSUK was published in 2010. This updated a previous study published in 2001 and did not support earlier concerns about a link between working at NSUK and developing cancer. Further information can be found on the HSE statistics site.
Although not related to exposure to chemical carcinogens, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified shift work (when it causes disruption of the body clock) as a “probable carcinogen”. In March 2010, Dr Rushton reported to HSE that an estimated 2000 breast cancer cases, and around 550 breast cancer deaths a year could be attributable to shift work, if such work does indeed cause this cancer.
HSE has commissioned the University of Oxford to undertake an extensive study on the relationship between shift work and chronic disease, with a focus on shift working patterns in relation to cancer and other chronic conditions in men and women. The study will be completed by December 2015. The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) carried out its own review of the evidence for shift work being a risk factor for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
As well as its own research on shift work, HSE is aware of a number of other ongoing studies worldwide, each of which will add to the evidence base, leading to a more robust assessment of whether the association can be regarded as an established risk at some future point. The reported risk of breast cancer has so far varied between studies.
Reviews of MbOCA and isocyanate exposures in the polyurethanes manufacturing industry have been completed, Research report available
Reviews of exposure control for other chemical carcinogens include:
HSE has also been engaging with trade unions and industry to work together to review exposure control to chemical carcinogens in the:
HSE’s approach to reducing the incidence of long latency diseases, with a specific focus on cancer is evidence-based, focusing in particular those activities and industries that present the greatest risks and working with stakeholders to identify sustainable solutions.
To date, HSE has established five partnership working groups, representing stoneworkers, quarries, foundries, welding and construction. Workers in these industries/activities have been identified, through research, to be at continued high risk from occupational respiratory diseases and cancer.
HSE has developed an interactive vocational learning package to assist those involved with teachingyoung learners in the building trades about the dangers and precautions of work with asbestos. Field Operations Directorate (FOD) are currently rolling out awareness events to encourage lecturers to take up and use the learning package as an effective means to teach their present and future students about the dangers of, and precautions for, work with asbestos, a ‘train the trainers’ approach. FOD is also looking at ways to raise awareness with employers of young learners to help them to understand the risks related to asbestos and the precautions their employees need to take to protect themselves. FOD is also continuing with its drive to make sure asbestos is properly managed in workplaces, through it workplace activities.
Health issues, including risks from carcinogens, are being addressed by HSE through Sectors strategies, which target poor performance in industry and other work places, and by carefully targeting HSE’s specialist staff to address the risk of disease at poorly performing companies.
HSE is developing 3 additional learning packages for welding, stoneworkers and motor vehicle repair. They are mainly aimed at vocational trainees in these areas, however, they are also being designed so that they can be used for workplace training.
It is anticipated that these will be ready in January 2012.