Tag Archives: cancer

It’s not always fun in the sun!

This year, IOSH is backing a campaign to raise awareness of occupational cancers. The No Time To Lose campaign is currently focusing on skin cancer, and they have recently published a study which reveals the number of people in the UK diagnosed with or dying from the deadliest form of skin cancer because of sun exposure at work.

They estimate that in the UK, every week a person dies from malignant melanoma from sun exposure at work, with 240 new cases also being registered per year. Combining these findings with other recent studies into work-related non-melanoma skin cancer reveals that in the UK on average five people per day are being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer contracted at work.

IOSH states that “The research has given businesses the first full picture of the skin cancer burden on those working outdoors in industries as diverse as construction, agriculture and leisure and entertainment”.

The problem of excess sun exposure is widespread. It is estimated that in the UK 5.5 million people have been exposed to solar radiation through their work – particularly in the service industries, construction sector, manufacturing and agriculture.

Sadly, people are often disinclined to take the risks of sun exposure seriously, but if employers understand what a serious issue it is, they can use their influence to make cultural changes within their business.

The campaign urges employers to develop ‘sun safety strategies’ including, for example, consulting the UV index, making plans to minimise sun exposure around the middle of the day, and encouraging employees who work outdoors to wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops and trousers. They emphasise that using high-factor sunscreen is helpful, but should not be relied upon as the only strategy.

For assistance with a range of occupational health matters, including risk assessments and employee health programmes, contact us on info@amalgamate-safety.com or call 0141 244 0181

The Dangers of Diesel

IOSH has been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of diesel fumes. The fumes are carcinogenic, and it is estimated that every year 650 people die in the UK (and 4,500 in Europe) from lung or bladder cancers that they cause.

Some facts

Diesel fumes contain 10 times more soot particles than petrol fumes, and regular exposure to them means that you have a 40% higher chance of developing lung cancer.

800 people are diagnosed with cancer caused by diesel fumes in the UK every year.

Around half a million workers in the UK could be exposed to dangerous levels of diesel fumes.

Some of the main risk employment areas for exposure to diesel engine fumes include: construction, shipping, transport/logistics, vehicle repair, and warehousing.

What does this mean for your business?

This is a sizeable problem and, as with all health and wellbeing issues, employers must ensure that they are making sufficient effort to protect their workers.

Things to consider include: the type of diesel being used, the level of fumes, whether they are building up in enclosed areas, and if they are making sooty deposits or a smoky haze which workers are exposed to.

Where diesel fumes are present, a risk assessment should be undertaken. When doing this, you need to think about the following points:

  • What diesel engines or equipment are used in the workplace?
  • Do engines or machines emit blue or black smoke?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes released into enclosed working areas such as garages?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes drawn into the workplace through ventilation inlets?
  • Are diesel exhaust fumes concentrated in confined spaces or areas in buildings where there is limited air movement?
  • Are there visible soot deposits on surfaces in the workspace?
  • Is there a visible haze?
  • do those in the work environment suffer from irritated eyes or lungs?

If you answer ‘yes’ to some or all of these basic questions, there is a risk of people being harmed by diesel exhaust fumes. It’s vital that you arrange a formal assessment of the hazard, which could include measuring elemental carbon concentrations. Depending on the results of the assessment, you may need to either prevent or control the potential exposure. Typical actions to control exposure include:

  • switching to other forms of fuel where possible, e.g. gas or electric
  •  replacing old engines with newer versions with lower emissions
  • making sure that engines are maintained properly – especially fuel delivery systems
  • making sure diesel engine exhausts have filters using ‘local exhaust ventilation’ and good general ventilation in fixed or enclosed workplaces
  • using forced ventilation to draw fresh air into the workplace
  • using connecting extraction pipes for vehicle exhausts in workshops
  • filtering air in vehicle cabs
  • making sure that engines are turned off when they’re not needed
  • if engines have to be left running, making sure the vehicle or equipment is moved outside (checking that no one else is then exposed)
  • making sure cold engines are warmed up in spaces with good ventilation
  • keeping building doors and windows open if it’s practicable
  • rotating jobs between different employees to minimise exposure.

Health surveillance

Ensuring that Occupational Health (OH) checks are undertaken is also key to maintaining workers’ health. Regular checks can alert you to potential problems that may require further action.

Some useful resources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/cancer/

http://www.notimetolose.org.uk

How can you get help?

Hopefully this information will help you to make a start on establishing if there are steps to be taken to protect your employees. However, if you need any assistance with managing Occupational Health please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your requirements. Phone 0141 244 0181 or email info@amalgamate-safety.com.