Organisations should dig deeper to uncover and manage possible cancer-causing risks in the workplace for staff.
The Cancer Council Australia reports an estimated 3.6 million Australians are exposed to cancer-causing agents at work, with around 5,000 cases diagnosed annually as a result.
Terry Slavin, the Chair of the Occupational and Environmental Cancer Committee, said employers and workers could take simple steps to reduce risks, particularly for those agents where awareness was particularly low.
“Awareness of the risk of exposures like asbestos and UV radiation is increasing, and that is reflected in gradual improvements in work safety practices,” he said.
“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.”
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has upgraded its classification of diesel exhaust to a ‘group one carcinogen’, confirming it is an established cause of cancer in humans.
The Cancer Council Australia has released a series of resources outlining workplace cancer risks for employers and employees, including diesel engine exhaust, UV radiation, asbestos, welding fumes and second-hand tobacco smoke.
The resources provide information to reduce exposures at work and outlining legal obligations for organisations.