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Preventing occupational cancer

23.03.2007

A new cancer prevention guide, reveals that over 600,000 deaths a year -- one death every 52 seconds -- are caused by occupational cancer, making up almost one-third of all work-related deaths.

GLOBAL: A worldwide epidemic of occupational cancer is claiming at least one life every 52 seconds, but this tragedy is being ignored by both official regulators and employers.

This stark warning comes from a global union coalition, which this week launched stage one of a "zero cancer" campaign to tackle what it says is the No.1 workplace killer worldwide.

Marcello Malentacchi, General Secretary of the International Metalworkers' Federation, says: "Occupational cancer is the most common work-related cause of death, ahead of other work-related diseases and accidents, but it is not taken seriously by regulators or employers."

Preventing occupational cancer, the most common work-related cause of death, is the subject of the new guide, published today. Occupational Cancer/Zero Cancer: A union guide to prevention addresses the growing epidemic of occupational cancer and outlines steps unions can take to protect workers in the workplace. The guide was produced as part of the first ever international zero occupational cancer campaign, involving 11 global trade union organisations together representing over 300 million members in more than 150 countries.

"Despite occupational cancer being the single largest cause of work-related deaths, the risks have been downplayed by governments, health and safety enforcement agencies and employers. The end result has been a wholly preventable epidemic of cancers," says IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi.

"This epidemic has to stop. Trade unions in hundreds of countries will be joining the campaign. We'll be calling for widespread workplace mapping, inquiries and surveys, and a big drive to get rid of the top killers, such as achieving a global ban on asbestos," adds Malentacchi.

IMF published the guide with the support of the International Trade Union Confederation the other global union federations: BWI, EI, ICEM, IFJ, ITGLWF, ITF, IUF, PSI and UNI.

Copies of the guide are being sent to IMF affiliates along with a zero cancer campaign poster, both available for download on the IMF website in English. The guide will also shortly be available in French, Spanish and Russian, in print and as a pdf on the IMF website at: www.imfmetal.org/cancer.

Affiliates that would like to receive additional copies of the guide should contact the IMF at: [email protected].