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Tackling occupational disease

The Health and Safety Executive is calling on public, private and third (voluntary) sector organisations to tackle occupational disease. 

The HSE is encouraging the promotion and exchange of ideas and the generation of novel initiatives through these web pages and the occupational disease community site

The focus will be on two key priority areas:

  • Respiratory diseases (including asthma, COPD and silicosis);
  • Occupational cancer (from all types of exposure).

Occupational disease for some workers can mean they experience life altering and in some cases premature life-ending illness. 

In 2011/12 there were an estimated 1.1 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, with around 450,000 new cases of occupation-related ill health and a further estimated 12,000 deaths each year caused by past exposures to harmful substances at work.

Traditionally, health issues in the workplace have been, and still are, harder to tackle than safety issues because cause and effect are often not clearly linked. 

While some cases of ill health are clearly related to work activity, for others the cause may be less clear.  Many serious occupational diseases also have a long period of latency, some up to 30 years, between exposure and development of ill health and/or disease, making the links even more difficult to establish.

This also means that after recognising the problem and making changes in working practices to reduce exposure, there may be a long delay before a reduction in the causes of ill health and death are seen.

However, where the link is established and exposure can be measured, interventions and activities aimed at raising awareness and creating behavioural change can work to reduce exposures and prevent ill health and disease.

You can join the online community to take action on occupational disease.

The community site acts as a forum for companies to promote their work and successful interventions, share ideas and insight, learn from others and discover new approaches to tackling occupational disease.

Click here to register.

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