More than one in 10 cases of lung cancer could be prevented if asbestos, silica, diesel exhaust and welding fume exposure were reduced in workplaces.
That was the argument made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the lead up to World Cancer Day earlier this month.
The media release by the ACTU said roughly 1800 work-related deaths every year from lung cancer could’ve been avoided with better safety measures.
In recent years, Australia has seen a dramatic spike in the number of workers suffering from silicosis caused by exposure to respirable silica dust. Silica dust also causes lung cancer.
The ACTU is calling upon the Federal Government to take urgent action, including implementing recommendations made by the National Dust Diseases Taskforce.
The ACTU said adequate workplace exposure standards, including for diesel exhaust and welding fumes, must be implemented for all dangerous substances, to avoid more preventable deaths from lung disease.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien said World Cancer Day was a time to reflect and remember those who’ve lost their lives to occupational cancer.
“This fight won’t be over until all Australian workers can go to work and know they’re going to be safe from disease,” he said.
“There is a plague of silicosis and cancers in workers who’ve come into contact with silica in their workplace.
“This risks becoming the asbestos of our generation, and we must act to prevent huge numbers of workers becoming sick and dying now.
“Until we have an adequate, fit-for-purpose workplace exposure standard for these dangerous substances, we’re going to continue to see deaths from lung disease caused by work exposure.”
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