Occupational Cancers

Occupational cancer can be caused by prolonged exposure to harmful materials and substances in the workplace.

The Health & Safety Executive estimates that there are around 8000 deaths a year from cancers which can be attributable to occupational exposure and there are around 13,500 new cases of occupational cancer every year. That is more than the number of deaths from road traffic accidents and murders combined.  Asbestos exposure alone accounts for at least half of all occupational cancer deaths.

There are numerous types of cancer and each will have different causes. It may be difficult to tell whether workplace exposure has caused a particular cancer because the symptoms can often develop many years after the exposure occurred. There are however some types of cancer that are strongly associated with occupational exposure including:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Bone Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Liver Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Nasal Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Oesophageal Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Throat Cancer

Occupational cancer develops as a result of work involving exposure to a carcinogen, which is a harmful substance or agent that can cause cells to become cancerous. There are over 100 substances that have been classified as human carcinogens. These include:

  • Asbestos
  • Arsenic
  • Aluminium Production
  • Benzidine
  • Berylium
  • Cadmium
  • Coke Production
  • Diesel Exhaust Emissions
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ionising Radiation
  • Leather Dust
  • Mineral Oils
  • Rubber Manufacture
  • Silica Dust
  • Solar Radiation
  • Wood Dust

People who work in certain occupations may be at a higher risk of developing occupational cancer because of exposure to harmful chemicals, radiation or certain industrial process. These include:

  • Beach Lifeguards
  • Chemical Production Workers
  • Farm Workers
  • Hairdressers
  • Joiners
  • Leather Workers
  • Metal Workers
  • Nuclear Submarine Workers
  • Nuclear Power Workers
  • Painters
  • Radiologists
  • Rubber Industry Workers
  • Vehicle Drivers/Mechanics
  • Welders

If you think you could be suffering from cancer you should seek medical advice immediately.

If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed as suffering from cancer, which may be attributable to past occupational exposure to harmful substances, you may be entitled to compensation.