Cancer Council Australia

Annual Review 2015-2016

Occupational cancers

Larger Text Smaller Text Print

About 40 percent of Australia’s working population – more than 3.5 million people – may be exposed to carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in the course of their work. Each year an estimated 5000 new cancer cases are due to workplace exposures.

Cancer Council Australia works to reduce the risks to Australian workers and communities. Our Occupational and Environmental Cancer Committee monitors known and emerging occupational and environmental cancer risks and develops evidence-based policy recommendations to improve regulation and policy change.

Policy priorities to reduce occupational cancers

Cancer Council’s National Cancer Prevention Policy makes evidence-based recommendations for national action by governments and non-government organisations, including programs and strategies, to reduce the incidence of preventable cancers.

In February 2016 we published a revised chapter of our National Cancer Prevention Policy focused on policy and interventions to reduce exposure to carcinogens in workplaces.

The 'Occupational Cancers' chapter was developed by our expert Occupational and Environmental Cancer Committee and reviewed by internationally-renowned occupational cancer experts Professor Lin Fritschi, Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Curtin University; Professor Bernard Stewart, Head of Cancer Control Program, South East Sydney Public Health Unit; and Professor Tim Driscoll, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health.

The chapter summarises evidence from two areas of research – studies that identify occupational carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) and studies that identify effective measures to reduce or eliminate workers’ exposures to them. It outlines Cancer Council’s policy priorities to reduce the burden of occupational cancer in Australia.

Contributing to chemical safety

The National industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) is Australia’s government agency responsible for assessing the risks of industrial chemicals and providing information to promote their safe use.

In February 2016, Cancer Council was invited to nominate a representative to join the NICNAS Strategic Consultative Committee. We nominated the chair of our Occupational and Environmental Cancer Committee, Terry Slevin.

Membership of this strategic committee provides an opportunity for Cancer Council to be informed of and contribute to the agency’s policies and priorities in protecting Australia’s people and environment from chemical risks.

This page was last updated on: Friday, October 21, 2016