future view

Eliminating work-related cancer: minor investment, major impact

17 October 2017 • 1 min reading time

Of the 4,100 people who die from occupational diseases each year in the Netherlands, work-related cancer is responsible for around 2,700 of these deaths. Despite good initiatives to create healthy working conditions in high-risk sectors like the building, metal and wood-processing industries, exposure to carcinogenic substances like RCS (Respirable Crystalline Silica), welding fumes and hardwood dust is often higher than the occupational exposure limits. This means that workers are subject to unnecessary health risks.

TNO is convinced that a combination of technological solutions, effective enforcement of the regulations and behavioural change among employers and employees will lead to the end of exposure to carcinogenic substances and get the number of work-related cancer cases down to zero. We are calling on employers, employees, the self-employed, tool manufacturers, the authorities and anyone involved in this area to join forces.

Reducing the inhalation of welding fumes

Together with tool producers TNO has developed technological solutions that greatly reduce exposure to carcinogenic substances in the workplace, such as the Extractor, a welding torch with a built-in source extractor that reduces the inhalation of hazardous welding fumes by more than 95 per cent. We are also working on combining the innovative welding torch with filtration of the extracted hazardous substances using a multicyclone technique. This makes mobile welding easy without any harmful effects on health.

“The innovative technical solutions and ways of working that are available must, in the eyes of TNO, become the norm in the workplace. In this way, work-related cancer can finally be eliminated”

Preventive measures and innovative tools

Exposure to RCS through processing stone materials will lead to limits being exceeded by a factor hundred unless adequate measures are taken. Preventive measures and the proper use of innovative tools can reduce exposure to this carcinogenic material and keep it within the limits. Comparable results can be achieved when working with hardwood dust. Here, too, using the right tools can significantly reduce the exposure.

Embracing new ways of working

Dust-free tools and ways of working are only effective if those working with them do so in the right way in the workplace and if there are adequate checks and enforcement. Employers and employees must embrace the new ways of working and apply them in practice. A minor investment here can have a major impact. The prevention of occupational diseases benefits those at work, employers and society: it restricts the costs of absence and work disability, it boosts employability and participation, it creates a satisfied workforce and helps workers stay healthy. The innovative technical solutions and ways of working that are available must, in the eyes of TNO, become the norm in the workplace. In this way, work-related cancer can finally be eliminated.

White Paper ‘Eliminating work-related cancer’

For more information on eliminating exposure to carcinogenic substances, read our white paper now.

Download White Paper
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