Over 700,000 Global Deaths from Occupational Cancer

11 September by Miriam Heale


According to new global research twice as many people die from work-related cancer than workplace accidents.  

An estimated 742,000 people die annually from cancer which is linked to the workplace according to new research carried out by the International Labour Organisation, ministries in Finland and Singapore, the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the International Commission on Occupational Health and the European Occupational Safety and Health Agency.

This has been a comprehensive and global study and the results show a 100,000 increase on previously published figures, which put the number of deaths at 666,000.

Carcinogens are present in paints and chemicals, in dust and asbestos, in fumes and emissions, and workers are still at risk throughout the global community.

It is all the more shocking because it is preventable, through appropriate protective equipment and clothing (PPE), in conjunction with correct health and safety procedures.  People should not be put at risk in the workplace and these findings underline the need for more focus on illness prevention.

Graham Parker, president of IOSH, said: “The findings from this new research are truly shocking. It shows that 742,000 families are having to come to terms with the loss of a loved one through cancer caused by something they were exposed to at work.  What makes it even more shocking is the fact that these deaths are preventable. By protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens, we can stop people from dying from this awful disease."

IOSH have highlighted the issue of occupational cancer in the 'No Time to Lose' campaign to which more than 100 organisations have pledged since its launch in November 2014.  But clearly more has to be done to protect workers in the future.