CANCER RISKS IN EU WORK: SOCIAL INEQUALTIES EXPOSED

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) conducted a Workers’ Exposure Survey (WES) to understand how workers are exposed to cancer risk factors. The survey looked at 24 known factors, like chemicals and physical risks.

They surveyed over 24,000 workers in six EU countries, finding that workers are commonly exposed to risks like sunlight, diesel exhaust, benzene, silica dust, and formaldehyde. Almost half of the workers were exposed to at least one risk, and over a quarter faced multiple risks. Some jobs, like in mining or construction, showed higher exposure rates. Smaller workplaces also had higher exposure rates compared to larger ones.

The survey also found specific situations that increase exposure. For example, working without eye protection in the sun increases exposure to sunlight. Handling sand dust, mixing concrete, or working with certain materials without proper protection increases silica dust exposure.

Work-related cancer is a big problem in Europe, causing more deaths than workplace accidents. The survey highlights that blue-collar workers are more at risk than white-collar workers. This survey aims to improve safety rules and protections against these risks, potentially leading to changes in safety regulations to better protect workers from harmful substances.

Work-related cancer is one of the biggest health problems faced in workplaces across Europe. Each year, occupational cancers are responsible for the deaths of over 102,000 workers – 30 times the number caused by occupational accidents. As the WES shows, it is a major source of social inequalities since blue-collar workers are more likely to be affected than white-collar workers.

Access the survey report here

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