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October 30, 2014

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IOSH calls for action on occupational cancers

IOSH has voiced its concern at the huge rise in the number of deaths from mesothelioma.

In 2012, there were 2,535 deaths from the disease – most of them caused by past occupational exposure to asbestos, HSE has revealed. This was up from 2,311 in 2011.

Of those who died in 2012, all but 409 were men. HSE said men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively are now among those most at risk of the disease.

But the organisation believes the deaths have reached a peak and has predicted they will fall below 2,000 by 2030.

IOSH believes occupational cancers are currently among the biggest issues in the workplace.

Carpenters are among the highest risk groups. Research by the British Journal of Cancer showed that one in 17 British carpenters born in the 1940s will die of the asbestos exposure-related disease.

Jane White, research and information services manager at IOSH, said: “It is not right that people are contracting and dying from mesothelioma and other diseases while at work.

“We are very concerned about the high number of people dying from mesothelioma and that people are still being exposed today. More should be done to tackle this and all other cancers caused by workplace exposures.

“While much of this is down to failures in preventing asbestos exposure in the past, we want to see better education for businesses small and large to ensure such avoidable exposures do not happen again.”

HSE figures also reveal that about two million people in 2013/14 suffered from an illness, which was believed to have been caused or made worse by their current or previous work.

In the last financial year, injury and ill-health led to an estimated 28.2 million working days being lost to sickness – costing the UK economy about £14.2bn.

As well as illnesses, deaths and injuries in workplaces, accidents are also causing concern.

Between the start of April 2013 and the end of March 2014, there were 133 fatal injuries. Of these, 106 were in England, 20 were in Scotland and seven in Wales. Yorkshire and the Humber was the region with the highest number of fatal injuries with 17. The North East had the lowest number with six.

The overall UK fatalities figure did represent a big fall from 150 the previous year, but 77,593 other injuries were also reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. This equated to 304.6 injuries per 100,000 workers.

Manufacturing was the industry that had the most injuries (3,159), while construction (1,900), waste and recycling (486) and agriculture (292) also had high numbers.

Ms White added: “While it is good that the number of fatalities have fallen the figures are still too high.

“Just one death in the workplace is one too many, each one causing devastation among loved ones. Action must be taken to make sure these figures continue to fall.”


What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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