Diesel Fume Cancer Danger

GMB Press Release: Diesel Fume Cancer Danger

Wednesday 13th June


HSE estimates that 652 deaths have resulted from occupational diesel exposure causing lung and bladder cancer and estimates that 100,000 workers are exposed to the hazard

A call for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to take urgent action to prevent deaths in many workplaces due to exposure to diesel fumes was made at GMB Congress today. This followed the announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that Diesel is now listed as a proven human carcinogen. A HSE discussion paper in May 2012 estimates 652 deaths from occupational diesel exposure due to lung and bladder cancer and an estimated 100,000 workers exposed.

GMB’s call is backed by Professor Andrew Watterson and Tommy Gorman of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

GMB has many thousands of members working as professional drivers and is particularly concerned about the crews of security vehicles which are loaded in security vaults and the many other workers who work with continually in and around diesel fumes.

Brian Terry, GMB Senior Safety Representative from the security industry where workers are exposed to diesel fumes said, “In the past the HSE has said that diesel fumes might cause cancer. Now they are saying that it does.

GMB members across the UK working in many sectors, now know the dangers of diesel fumes in the workplaces where vehicles are used in confined spaces and the workforce are exposed. GMB calls on the HSE to take immediate, decisive action to safe guard the many workers who will be worried by this report.

The HSE acknowledges that some professional drivers are a high risk group and other workers in construction and tunnelling are also exposed to danger from diesel.

Other high risk groups include railway workers and lorry drivers. These groups must be prioritised by HSE in inspections and for enforcement as it is thought that the biggest risk groups have a 40% increased risk of lung cancer due to diesel exposure.

Lung cancer from diesel fumes should immediately be added, on the basis of this World Health Organisation IARC assessment to the list of prescribed industrial diseases in the UK.”

Contact: John McClean, GMB Health & Safety Officer on 07710 631329 or Dan Shears, GMB Health & Safety Officer on  07918 767781,  or Tommy Gorman, Occupational & Environmental Health Research Group at the University of Stirling on 07540 674347  or GMB Press Office: Rose Conroy on  07974 251823 .

Notes to Editors:

(a) Professor Watterson and Mr Gorman are speaking at a GMB Congress fringe meeting on Occupational Cancer at the Brighton Centre today (Wednesday) at 12-45.

(b) Diesel was previously categorised as a Group 2A agent that is probably carcinogenic to humans.

(c) The reclassification of diesel to Group 1 status means that diesel is an agent that is carcinogenic to humans.

(d) Research showed that diesel emissions are the third largest cause of work related cancer deaths in the UK, after asbestos and silica dust.


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