Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How many warnings do we need?

Before I give the following by Rory O’Neill I have to rant. From time to time I am just plain tired and today is one of those days. So if you don't want to hear the ranting and raving then plug in to the next blog.

The same old same old no matter what government you are working with. The statement made by Steve Coldrick of HSE states "Reducing Occupational Cancer is his top priority." However it seems that unless industry pays for the study the study is not a priority.

To be honest my first reaction to this all is "Why in the hell do companies have a right to kill. Why not just put it out there as is:

instead of "You have a right to a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards"

"The company has a right to give you a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards so long as it doesn't interfere with production, profit, and prestige. "

The Right to three P's. God, know one could possible know how sick and disappointed I am with they way our government has allowed what was meant to be a good thing such as OSHA and workers comp to be tarnished by creating the opposite effect. To many efforts on the part of official's who really did give a damb, unions, EPA, workers and all other the other groups involved in H&S have been trow to the way side. We need to once again aggressively combine efforts and commit to a new wave of change. We have to watch each others backs otherwise who will...the industry?

While watching one of the Education and Labor Committee video's it was stated that only 20% of the industry is defiant. We have close to 6,000 families members who have lost a loved one and many organizations doing great things You can not convince me that together with strategic planning and the willingness to do so we cannot take on that 20%.

Let me put it another way. If it continues we have allowed it! So get off your butt's and bump some heads and if your foot is working well kick some A** so we don't have to loose another life be it a slow and agonizing illness or a sudden and unexpected incident.

Now that I have finished Rory has worked very heard to get the workplace cancer epidemic out. I have viewed most of what has been covered and it is a must see!

Rory O’Neill held a Cancer and work conference in Glasgow, 14 September 2006

The title "Burying the evidence the great workplace cancer cover up" Hazards also has a page on site just for cancer at

Losing the workplace cancer fight – BBC
The Stirling University study mentioned in the BBC programme blurb below will appear in the October-December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH), available free online It concludes the contribution of workplace factors to all cancers is at least double and possibly four times the commonly cited Doll/Peto contribution (4 per cent of all cancers related to work). The BBC piece, a 40 minute documentary, concentrates on the UK, but most of the lessons apply equally well in other modern, industrialised nations – and certainly to the situation the US, Canada and Australia.

Figures prepared for the International Labour Office (ILO) will also claim a work contribution to all cancers far in excess of the Doll/Peto figure. They indicate almost one in 10 cancers worldwide (9.6 per cent) are related to work. ILO says the rates in developed nations are considerably higher (developing nations have higher deaths from work-related infectious diseases and accidents). Even the lower world figure is more than twice the Doll/Peto estimate of the work contribution to all cancers.
ILO work-related cancer figures

FileOn4: Workplace cancers 09 Oct 07
Britain is seriously underestimating the risk of contracting cancer at work, according to research. For the last 25 years the Government's occupational health watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive, has estimated that only four per cent of cancers are work related - resulting in about 6,000 deaths a year. But a new study by Stirling University has found the figure is four times as much as the official estimate. They argue Britain is facing an epidemic of work-related cancers costing the economy at least £29bn a year and the HSE's recommendations for action range "from complacent to non-existent." BBC File On 4 asks are we lagging behind some other European countries in controlling known workplace carcinogens.
Related materials are available online at: and

Losing the workplace cancer fight
By Tim Whewell
BBC Radio 4, File On 4
The HSE is responsible for workplace safety
Occupational cancer is a quiet almost invisible epidemic picking off its victims years after they were first exposed to the risk.
It is one of the areas of workplace safety that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for.
Yet according to a new study published on Tuesday its occupational cancer figures are out of date.
The HSE's figures say 6,000 people die annually of work related cancers.
We know that the existing figures are wrong because of the basis of the calculation that was done some 25 years ago
Prof Andrew Watterson
But the study by Prof Andrew Watterson of Stirling University has found that between 18,000 to 24,000 people a year die of occupationally caused cancers.
"We know that the existing figures are wrong because of the basis of the calculation that was done some 25 years ago," he said.
"They looked at small number of - at that time - large industries. There are many more small to medium sized enterprises now where there may be exposures."
The HSE accepts its figures are out of date but the academic charged with reviewing them, believes they will only show a small increase.
Lesley Rushton of Imperial College said: "Because we are adding more cancers the estimates will rise."
But he added that figures for the six cancers in the HSE's original research will not differ greatly.
Cancer cluster
One of the newer industries Professor Watterson believes the HSE's data does not take into account is microelectronics.
Eleven years after Grace Morrison left the National Semiconductor factory in Greenock, near Glasgow she still has no explanation for what she and many other former workers saw as a cancer cluster in the area.
Grace was diagnosed with cancer and in the same week her sister, who also worked at the plant was found to have leukaemia which eventually claimed her life.
"It was a dreadful time my sister endured two years of hell with the treatment she was having.
Female cancers
"She survived two years and I'm still in remission."
Eventually after a local campaign, the HSE agreed to look into complaints by the firm's employees.
One theory was their cancer stemmed at least partly from exposure to some the chemicals the workers added to tiny silicon discs as part of the microchip production process.
The HSE's 2001 report found two to three times the expected rate of female lung cancer and four to five times the expected rate of female stomach cancers.
'No proof'
It found no immediate proof of a link but said further study was needed urgently yet this work only began this year.
Minutes of meetings of the Microelectronics Working Group, which brings together industry representatives, trade unions, and the HSE, obtained by File On 4 indicate disagreements between the various sides that may help explain the delay in starting the more detailed follow-up study.
One, for example, was over the remit of the new research, with National Semiconductor apparently wanting it limited to lung cancer.
The company declined a request for an interview, but in a statement they said: "There is NO proof that working at National Semiconductor in Greenock has caused an increased risk of employees developing cancer
"Although we have had some concerns regarding the HSE's proposed follow-on study, we have worked closely with the HSE to provide timely comments and information to them.
"National Semiconductor is continuing to work with the HSE on its follow-up study and until this study is completed it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.
"The health and safety of our employees is of paramount importance and we remain committed to providing a safe working environment.
"This is highlighted by the numerous awards secured by the company from organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the British Safety Council and National is one of the top Environmental Health and Safety performers in the UK."
Enforcement action
Steve Coldrick, head of the HSE's disease reduction programme, denied that the micro electronics industry was slow to agree to cooperate with in depth studies.
"The key point is the follow up is a further study so it is not an enforcement action," he said.
"It requires the co-operation and collaboration of the people concerned and the follow up study has started.
"You are talking about six years, but it is determining at the rate of other people as well.
"If other people do not think it is urgent and we have no regulatory force behind it, we are dependent on the pace at which they will go."
You can learn more about this story from File On 4, at 2000 BST, Tuesday 9 October 2007, repeated Sunday 14 October 1700 BST.

TUC Risks
TUC Changing Times
Health, safety and environment officer
International Federation of Journalists
Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group,
University of Stirling

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