Considerate Constructors Scheme puts occupational cancers under the spotlight

Over 40 per cent of all occupational cancer deaths arise within the construction industry.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme has published a new ‘Spotlight on…’ initiative focusing on occupational cancers, which aims to raise awareness of how the industry can help to safeguard its workforce against occupational cancers – where protection and early intervention is critical – before it’s too late.

The Scheme’s ‘Spotlight on…’ series aims to look at different areas associated with improving the image of construction, and hopes to raise awareness among registered sites, companies and suppliers on how they can help with the issues.

The construction workforce is at a greater risk of developing cancer, notably skin and lung cancer at work compared with any other industry group, if the risks posed fail to be appropriately managed. A number of the substances potentially causing risk include asbestos, silica, diesel engine exhaust emissions, paint and prolonged exposure to UV radiation. Without appropriate control measures in place, the workforce can be harmfully exposed by breathing these substances in or absorbing them through the skin.

It is difficult to determine the true extent of occupational cancers as in many cases individuals fail to develop any noticeable symptoms of either skin or lung cancers until many years later. Therefore, occupational cancers are often not viewed as a high risk health and safety issue.

Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme said:

“A staggering 40 per cent of total occupational cancer deaths arise within the construction industry. There’s no doubt that more awareness raising and preventative measures need to be adopted across the industry. The Scheme monitors around 8000 sites, companies and suppliers every year, and therefore plays a critical role in helping to raise awareness on the ground.

“The good news is that many of those registered with the Scheme are taking action. Examples include proactively removing carcinogen and hazardous substances, isolating high risk areas, introducing controls to reduce exposure, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to match the working conditions, raising general awareness and offering appropriate support and advice.”