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29 November 2018

New issue of HesaMag lifts the lid on work-related cancer

HesaMag 18 cover

Cancer kills 1.3m people in the European Union each year, but a staggering 100,000 of these deaths may be caused by workplace carcinogens, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The impact of cancer on workers is the focus of analysis in the latest issue of HesaMag, the ETUI’s magazine on working conditions, health and safety.

The ILO’s figures imply that 8% of all cancer deaths are work-related, yet such occupational hazards rarely attract media attention. Even more surprisingly, the campaigns rolled out by public institutions or private organisations dedicated to fighting cancer do not often cite workplace factors as causes. One reason may be that occupational cancers mainly affect blue-collar workers and low-profile sectors, such as cleaning, maintenance and waster-recycling. Such ‘silent’ workers are less likely to be in a position to fight for better and safer workplace conditions.   

But although trade unions have successfully pushed for stricter laws in protecting workers’ health, in too many companies basic health and safety regulations continue to be flouted and the breaches of the law often go unpunished. The issue contains reports on the  most-polluting coal-plant, a nurse who was hit by cancer while trying to cure patients, an arborist who was a victim of pesticides and textile workers dealing with hazardous dyes. Other reports unveil details of how IT can be used to survey occupational exposure to carcinogens and show how support groups can help victims of workplace illnesses.

The impact of cancer on women specifically is also the theme of a major ETUI conference on ‘Women, work and cancer’ from 4-5 December in Brussels. Click here for more details. 

Read more: HesaMag 18, Work-related cancer: emerging from obscurity

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