Diesel can­cer risk high­lighted

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Can­cer Coun­cil high­lights risks of diesel ex­po­sure

Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia is call­ing for greater aware­ness fol­low­ing new es­ti­mates show­ing around 130 Aus­tralian work­ers are di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer each year as a re­sult of work-based ex­po­sure to diesel fumes.

Most at risk are those who work with heavy ma­chin­ery, in­clud­ing any reg­u­lar work with diesel-fu­elled ve­hi­cles such as trac­tors, ex­ca­va­tors, fork­lifts and buses.

As part of Na­tional Safe Work month in Oc­to­ber, the Can­cer Coun­cil is re­leas­ing a se­ries of free re­sources out­lin­ing work­place can­cer risks that ex­ist for em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­cently up­graded its clas­si­fi­ca­tion of diesel fumes to a ‘Group 1’ car­cino­gen, mean­ing it is an es­tab­lished and proven cause of can­cer in hu­mans. The Can­cer Coun­cil says that, de­spite this, aware­ness of the haz­ards of diesel fumes is rel­a­tively low.

“Aware­ness of the risks of ex­po­sures like as­bestos and UV ra­di­a­tion is in­creas­ing, and is re­flected in grad­ual im­prove­ments in work safety prac­tices,” Can­cer Coun­cil Aus­tralia Oc­cu­pa­tional and En­vi­ron­men­tal Can­cer Com­mit­tee chair Terry Slevin says. “By con­trast, aware­ness of the haz­ards of ex­po­sure to diesel fumes is low, es­pe­cially in re­la­tion to the po­ten­tial harms.

“Ex­po­sure to diesel fumes is Aus­tralia’s sec­ond-most preva­lent work-based can­cer-caus­ing agent.

“It’s es­ti­mated that around 1.2 mil­lion Aus­tralians are ex­posed to diesel en­gine ex­haust at work each year, and that 130 work­ers each year are di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer as a re­sult of their ex­po­sure on the job.”

The Can­cer Coun­cil says that even sim­ple steps taken, such as wind­ing up the win­dow or turn­ing on the air-con­di­tion­ing in diesel ve­hi­cles, can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the risk of can­cer.

“Tak­ing stronger ac­tion now and in­creas­ing aware­ness will go a long way to avoid­ing the worst kind of prob­lems down the track – em­ploy­ees be­ing di­ag­nosed with a can­cer that can be at­trib­uted to what hap­pened to them at work,” Slevin says.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Can­cer Coun­cil web­site: www.can­cer.org.au/work­cancer

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