From the 22nd – 28th October the European week for safety and health at work will focus on the prevention of risks posed by dangerous substances within the workplace.  In the UK 8,000 people die due to exposure of carcinogens at work and 13,500 new occupational cancer cases are registered in the UK.

Our industry accounts for the single largest number of occupational cancer cases with approximately 3,500 cancer deaths and 5,500 new cancer registrations each year in Britain.  The main factors involved in this are past exposure to asbestos along with exposure to silica, solar radiation, welding fumes and other contributing factors.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s (EU-OSHA) aims to reduce the exposure of workers to dangerous substances as outlined in their document ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’.

“Protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens is one of the key challenges for occupational safety and health in the 21st century. We are working to highlight the scale of the problem and the importance of preventing exposure to carcinogens at work as part of our current campaign. We believe that by informing and educating workers and employers, as well as offering practical solutions, we can reduce and even eliminate exposure to carcinogens at work, thereby preventing needless suffering and deaths from cancer. said Christa Sedlatschek, Executive Director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)

Although use of some of the most dangerous substances, such as asbestos, are now banned or strictly controlled, modern workplaces continue to expose workers to dangerous agents, such as highly toxic liquids and chemicals, as well as nanomaterials, the health risks of which are not yet fully understood but predicted to be even greater.” said David Parr, Policy and Technical Services Director at the British Safety Council.

“The most effective way of managing exposure to dangerous substances in the workplace is the creation of a risk prevention culture. When this happens, workers are pro-actively involved in risk assessment processes and are well informed about the dangers, as well as the control measures that can be taken to prevent or control them.

“Occupational exposure limits (OELs) for hazardous substances laid down in European OSH directives are crucial for the protection of workers’ health. With Brexit growing increasingly imminent, it essential that the well-established control regime relating to this issue is not compromised in any way by the UK’s withdrawal process”

The British Safety Council has been working with employers and decision makers for over 60 years.  Their vision is that no-one should be injured or made ill at work and they are delighted to be supporting EU-OSHA’s campaign through there monthly magazine ‘safety management’.



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