04:38am Monday 11 December 2017

Preventing workplace cancer

Professor Jeroen Douwes

The forum at Te Papa on Thursday November 28 will address issues including skin cancer in outdoor workers, and overviews of cancer in the global workplace and in New Zealand. It will also offer a government perspective from Environment Minister Amy Adams.

A report from Massey’s Centre for Public Health Research showed that in addition to well-known cancer causing agents like asbestos and ultraviolet radiation, wood dust, silica and diesel smoke all potentially caused the fatal disease in the workplace too.

Researchers led by centre director Professor Jeroen Douwes carried out studies that indicate there are many opportunities to reduce the burden of occupation related cancer in New Zealand, which has been estimated to cause between 200 and 400 deaths a year.

Professor Douwes says that occupational disease is largely preventable and given the size of the problem effective preventive solutions are urgently needed.

Cancer Society spokesperson Barbara Hegan says the forum was the first step in trying to reduce the number of avoidable deaths. “We are hoping that by beginning the conversation we can encourage some changes to start taking place in the workplace.”
 
A Government initiative Worksafe New Zealand, comprising existing health and safety staff from the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, will be launched in December tasked with improving the health and safety of the workforce

Massey University.


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