A recent article published by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has highlighted the need for ongoing research into cancers caused by employee activities.
The piece reviewed the level of media and public interest in the area, finding that the problem of workplace carcinogens receives just as much attention from both sources, but falls behind in the area of “attention from researchers and policymakers in Australia”.
This is especially clear when compared to the amount of research and funding received by “those related to tobacco use and sun exposure”.
The article asserted: “Occupational cancers are not easily identifiable, as they have no unique pathological or clinical features and the lag time between exposure and cancer diagnosis may be decades.”
For this reason, the article’s authors assert that the actual number of cancers in Australia that are related to what it calls “occupational exposures” is really quite difficult to estimate.
However, the medical professionals involved have done their best to quantify the problem, applying statistics obtained through research in other countries including the US and the UK.
The results were applied to known data on the Australian employment environment to show: “…that about 5,000 cancers a year are caused by occupational exposures”.
For this reason alone, the authors of the article have recommended that there be more effort put into raising awareness of the potential dangers for carcinogen exposure in the workplace – as well as how to put protective measures in place.
The article states: “Strategic action aimed at reducing the burden of occupational cancer in Australia needs to be concentrated around three aspects: raising the profile of occupational cancer; interventions to reduce exposure to carcinogens, supported by legislative processes; and improving the support for patients with occupation-related cancer.”
In NSW it is the duty of all employers to ensure that their workforce is provided with a safe working environment that is free from hazards.
Risk management inspections are to be regularly carried out by qualified personnel and staff members are to receive proper training to equip them with the tools they need in order to adequately report any issues they are unable to handle on their own.
In cases where these conditions are breached and a worker is injured, compensation lawyers can help by providing sound counsel on their legal options.
Because these injuries can result in a victim being unable to work for periods of time, a no win no fee arrangement can take some of the burden out of seeking compensation.