Death Toll from Occupational Cancers Continues to Rise

Recently released figures have revealed a large rise in the number of deaths from mesothelioma, which is a cause of great concern for the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

In 2012 there were 2,535 deaths from the disease, most of which were caused by past occupational exposure to asbestos the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed. This was up from 2,311 in 2011.

Of those who died in 2012, all but 409 were men. According to the HSE, 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, with 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.

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

“We are very concerned about the high number of people dying from mesothelioma and that people are still being exposed today,” she said. “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,” she added.

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