The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) published a quick and easy guide to cancer prevention in the workplace in October.

The brochure, Are there carcinogens in your workplace? It’s time to act!, is intended for OHS officers, employers and workers. The Canadian Cancer Society, which is dedicated to prevention, has welcomed its publication.

Developing occupational cancer is a real risk that is often trivialized, as was too long the case with tobacco, partly due to the fact that it may take 10 to 40 years between exposure to a carcinogen and diagnosis of an illness. The brochure, based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge available, helps identify carcinogens in the workplace, provides examples of preventive measures and best practices for controlling exposure, and proposes a model action plan for eliminating or reducing exposure.

“The CSST currently compensates more cases of death due to cancer than to workplace accidents. Scientific estimates indicate that between three and 10 per cent of all new cases of cancer are due to workplace exposure. It’s time to take action and do something to prevent those cases of cancer that not only have human and social costs, but also entail a financial burden for companies,” said IRSST epidemiologist, France Labrèche.

A summary sheet specifically for workers will also be available to encourage them to adopt best practices and reduce their risk of exposure. According to lead author Labrèche, workers, employers and prevention officers must be vigilant.

“New products and processes enter the workplace every day. And just because they’re on the market, it doesn’t mean they’re all safe. We have to consider first whether the products, materials and processes we use and the work environment expose us to carcinogens, and do all we can to mitigate, or even eliminate, exposure, but we also have to remain vigilant and review preventive measures regularly.”

Researchers estimate that in 2013, Quebec will see between 1,500 and 4,900 new cases of occupational cancer resulting from exposure decades ago. That’s why we have to act now to prevent cancer that wouldn’t be diagnosed for many years.

Free download at www.bit.ly/carcinogens.


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