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Cancer Linked To Your Occupation

5 June 2018

There are over 40,000 people being diagnosed of cancer every year in Ireland.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer followed by prostrate, breast, bowel and lung caners.

While most cancer is notting to do with work, there are well-recognised causes for those that are linked with occupation. The most common causes of work-related cancers are:

  • Ultraviolet light (mainly from natural sunlight, not exclusively to do with work, but is significant for those who work outdoors);
  • Ultraviolet light from sunbeds,(where there may be a risk for sunbed operators and their employees).
  • Some chemicals (such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs] from coal tar, pitch and unrefined mineral oils);
  • Ionising radiation (e.g. from radioactive substances and X-rays)
  • Asbestos inhalation can cause serious and fatal illness. People who are exposed to Asbestos breathe in tiny fibres that accumulate and lodge in the lungs. This can cause scarring, inflammation and mesothelioma cancer. It is a rare cancer and no known cure and develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

Who is at risk from Asbestos related disease?

Everyone is at risk from this as the tiny particles are present in the air, water and soil. People who become ill are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis, a job where they work directly with the material or through substantial environmental contact.

How can you protect yourself from Asbestos related illness?

There are a series of regulations to help protect workers form risks related to exposure. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) plays a major role in enforcing these regulations.

Employers are responsible for their employees who are at risk and must take the following steps to ensure this:

  • Identify any Asbestos before work starts and plan.
  • Do a risk assessment and write the plan
  • Inform employees about the levels of exposure and try to keep this level to a minimum.
  • Employ specialists where there are high levels of Asbestos.
  • Provide protective wear that is specific for the type of work and the level of asbestos in the air.
  • Provide information and training so that employees are aware of the dangers involved with asbestos.
  • Dispose all waste that contains asbestos.

For more information about asbestos, take our asbestos awareness certified online course.