Work-related cancers costs between €270 and €610 billion (£240bn to £543bn) a year across the EU, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has said.
The trade union health and safety thinktank says occupational cancers are the primary cause of work-related deaths in industrialised societies, with more than 100,000 people losing their lives each year as a result of exposure to workplace carcinogens.
A new book from ETUI, Cancer and work, calculates the human and financial cost of occupational cancers and spells out the steps needed to prevent them. “These cancers are morally unacceptable, as they could easily have been avoided through adequate prevention measures,” said Laurent Vogel, senior researcher at the ETUI and co-editor of the book.
ETUI chemicals specialist Tony Musu, the book’s co-editor, added: “They are also unfair. Exposure to carcinogens at work are the cause of major social inequalities in health in Europe, as in the rest of the world.
Labourers or nurses are much more likely to contract an occupational cancer than engineers or bankers. Indeed, a socio-occupational map can be drawn for the different types of cancer, tracing them back to these social inequalities.”
The problem is not treated with the necessary seriousness, ETUI warns. It says when comparing the research budgets assigned to studying genetic factors and occupational factors, the former has considerable resources allocated to it while the latter has to make do with ‘peanuts’.
- Cancer and work: understanding occupational cancers and taking action to eliminate them, ETUI, December 2018: Free pdf download.
- HesaMag 18, Work-related cancer: emerging from obscurity, ETUI, December 2018.