The team, headed by Winthrop Research Professor Lin Fritschi of the UWA-affiliated Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR), has won a $384,515 chunk of $7.9 million in health research funding announced yesterday (Wed 10th) by Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.
The funding is part of the Partnership Project, a scheme which encourages alliances between government and non-government health bodies and researchers to improve health and wellbeing. Funding for the UWA-led Extended Australian Workplace Exposures Study (AWES2) is provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council and partners Safe Work Australia, Cancer Council Western Australia and Cancer Council Australia.
The three-year study, one of 11 to receive grants under the project, will survey 5000 Australian workers in a bid to estimate the exposure to asthma- and cancer-causing agents in the workplace.
It will be carried out by a team of investigators from UWA, Monash and Sydney universities working in conjunction with the community funding partners.
Professor Fritschi, Head of the Epidemiology Group at WAIMR, said work-related asthma and cancer were ideal candidates for prevention, with clear opportunities for policy action. However, the limited data available on how many people were at risk of these diseases due to work conditions meant there was a lack of attention and resources being used to prevent them.
“In order to prevent these diseases, we need to first understand how many workers are exposed to the chemicals causing asthma and cancer, in which industries the exposures occur, and whether available controls are being used,” Professor Fritschi said.
“The data we collect will be used to estimate the burden of occupational asthma and cancer in Australia, and to model the effect of different preventive interventions on the future burden.
“By providing information on current exposures and the likely burden of these diseases, relevant policies and practices can be implemented to reduce the future burden.”