Carcinogens in the workplace – Australian Workplace Exposure Study reports

Many of us might be aware that some foods we eat or lifestyle choices we make can increase the risk of developing cancer, but how many of us are aware that the type of work we do might also increase the risk? The latest Australian Work Exposure Study (AWES) reports estimate the likelihood of workersÂ’ potential exposure to 38 known or suspected carcinogens likely to be used in Australian workplaces, including UV radiation, environmental (or second hand) tobacco smoke, diesel engine exhaust and wood dust. The reports use AWES data to estimate carcinogenic exposures for participating workers in the agricultural, construction and manufacturing industries, identify the main circumstances of those exposures, and describe the reported use of workplace controls and protective measures designed to decrease those exposures. While most workers will not develop cancer as a result of work-related exposures, those exposed to known or suspected carcinogens are at greater risk. Existing work health and safety guidance provides information about potential health effects and how exposures might occur and be prevented, however the results from this study suggest that the use of controls could be improved by taking further preventative measures specific to each industry. A copy of the Australian Workplace Exposure Study is available at: Australian Workplace Exposure Study. The report provides information about health effects, common exposure scenarios and options for preventing or minimising potential exposures to carcinogens.

Safe Work Australia, 2 June 2016 ; ;