Occupational Cancer – Causes and Prevention

Occupational cancer is killing at the rate of one person every 52 seconds worldwide. Trade union health and safety reps have a vital role to play in identifying potential causes of occupational cancer and ensuring hazards are removed from the workplace.

We held a half day seminar bringing together 45 delegates, including trade union representatives, academics and solicitors, to update and share their knowledge about occupational cancer, its causes, and the actions needed at international, national, Scottish, community and workplace level to prevent it.

Delegates heard presentations from specialists in the field:

Following questions and plenary discussion, delegates broke into groups to share information about their experience regarding work-related cancer, the situation in their workplaces, and ideas of what Scottish Hazards should do to take this issue forward.

The points made in discussion included:

  • The value and importance of working collectively at sector level;
  • The importance of moving away from a ‘blame culture’ regarding health and safety to one emphasising prevention and competence development rather than discipline;
  • That we should develop and disseminate a “dirty dozen” to assist reps to find out if they have it in their workplace, and then do something about it; and
  • That Scottish Hazards should press for strong preventative measures to be included in the Scottish Cancer Plan, modelled on ideas presented by the seminar speakers.

When taking action in your own workplace, see also ‘Finding out what harms us…’ which was distributed to seminar delegates.