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7,000 die each year from work-related cancer

Seven thousand people die in the UK every year from work-related cancer compared with 3000 who die in road accidents or 240 who lose their lives in work-related accidents, The Society of Occupational Medicine reports.

The society claims many of these lives could be saved be employers raising awareness of the substances that cause cancer. More than one million people in the UK are exposed to such substances at work and The Society of Occupational Medicine is urging employers to identify and minimise this exposure.

The society report shows in many situations construction workers, painters and decorators and those exposed to diesel and exhaust fumes from motor vehicles are unaware of risks, and few controls are put in place.

Tony Stevens, president of The Society of Occupational Medicine, said: "There is a social inequality in occupational cancer risk, which is concentrated in manual workers and lower employment grades. This means many of the industries with workers at risk don't have access to good occupational health advice so proper risk assessments are not undertaken.

"The missed opportunity is that we know many of the culprits and how to control them. It is simply a case of getting the right expertise into the right workplaces."

The substances putting employees at risk include asbestos and crystalline silica found in some exhaust fumes and paints.