Can­cer risk hid­ing in your work­place

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­mannsw.com.au

THE fed­eral work­place health and safety author­ity, Safe Work Australia, es­ti­mates that 5000 Aus­tralians are di­ag­nosed with can­cer each year that may re­sult from oc­cu­pa­tional ex­po­sure to car­cino­gens.

New re­search by the Can­cer Coun­cil sug­gests the true num­ber of peo­ple ex­posed to harm­ful ma­te­ri­als in the course of their em­ploy­ment is much higher, with an es­ti­mated 3.6 mil­lion Aus­tralians po­ten­tially ex­posed to car­cino­gens at work.

Their re­port, Oc­cu­pa­tional Ex­po­sures to Car­cino­gens in Australia, found that be­tween 2000 and 2012, there were 4745 com­pen­sa­tion claims made for oc­cu­pa­tion­ally re­lated can­cers, re­sult­ing in a com­bined bill of $360.5 mil­lion.

Skin can­cer and mesotheli-

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Tune in to the Chris Smith Af­ter­noon Show on 2GB on Tues­days from 1.30pm where a spe­cial­ist lawyer will be avail­able to take your calls. oma — caused by as­bestos ex­po­sure — ac­counted for the vast ma­jor­ity of those claims.

But the re­search found those fig­ures vastly un­der­re­ported the prob­lem and es­ti­mated that only a small frac­tion — less than 8 per cent — of can­cer cases caused by oc­cu­pa­tional risk fac­tors had re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Can­cer Coun­cil, the rea­sons for this in­clude a lack of aware­ness of oc­cu­pa­tional risk fac­tors for can­cer among work­ers and health pro­fes­sion­als, along with the in­her­ent dif­fi­cul­ties in as­sign­ing a spe­cific oc­cu­pa­tional cause.

For ev­ery mesothe­lioma di­ag­no­sis, it is sug­gested that there are two as­bestosre­lated lung can­cer cases but the con­nec­tion is not made be­cause the worker had been a smoker.

Lung can­cer can also be caused by work­place ex­po­sure to sil­ica, ra­di­a­tion and chem­i­cals.

While ob­vi­ous risk fac­tors such as work­ing at heights or with heavy ma­chin­ery are of­ten front of mind when en­sur­ing work­places op­er­ate safely, this re­search re­veals that less ob­vi­ous risks, such as regular sun ex­po­sure and hid­den car­cino­gens in the work­place can ac­tu­ally be far more danger­ous.

For peo­ple di­ag­nosed with a can­cer caused by oc­cu­pa­tional ex­po­sure, it is im­por­tant to seek timely legal ad­vice.

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